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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: < 1 minute

I’ve been listening to My Analogue Journey which has got an amazing selection of Japanese music as part of his videos. Check this out

Streaming Up From Boston – Info on how to watch here | Dropkick Murphys – what really surprised me is that enterprise software company Pegasystems stepped up to financially support this. Its an amazing concert by the Dropkick Murphys.

I am a big fan of SIGGRAPH demo videos. They are are an amazing amalgam. Reality and Daliesque surrealism. This video is very much in that SIGGRAPH vein. The physics of this video is amazing, but has a distinct otherworldly quality.

Huggies candid campaign takes on parent-shaming | Canvas8 – Procter & Gamble have built a stable of expertise in mixing ads with social purpose. This reminded me a bit of Brooklyn Brothers work for Water Wipes which hinged around authenticity around the parenting experience. More posts related to Procter & Gamble here.

ICYMI: Vanilla Ice apologises for crimes against music in this campaign from Virgin to ‘Right Music… | Creative Moment  – using celebrities and getting the balance right is always a tough one. In this particular case Virgin seems to have done a better job rebuilding up the brand of Vanilla Ice than its own brand. It was an interesting insight that consumers no longer know about Virgin’s musical heritage that gave it its original cool factor. I do wonder if Vodafone had a similar but less extreme issue with its ads that revolved around Martin Freeman.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Facebook executives ‘knew for years’ about misleading ad metric | Financial TimesThe lawsuit claims that Facebook represents the potential reach metric as a measure of how many people a given marketer could reach with an advertisement. However, it actually indicates the total number of accounts that the marketer could reach — a figure that could include fake and duplicated accounts, according to the allegations. – Facebook’s misleading ad metric isn’t news in its own right. What’s interesting is that the FT article goes on to claim that potential audience size in some states were bigger than publicly available data and seemed nonsensical in comparison to say census data

UK lays out plans for legal e-scooters, medical drones and more transportation innovation in test cities | TechCrunch – if electric scooters is going to be anything like what I saw in Paris, it’ll be carnage

Xenophobia amid the coronavirus pandemic is hurting Chinese immigrant neighborhoods – Voxanti-Asian xenophobia and racism have become a bigger issue around the world as a result of Covid-19. As Nylah Burton reported for Vox, in major cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, and Toronto, East Asians have been targeted — from racist comments made by TSA agents to verbal street harassment. Meanwhile, Chinese restaurants across the globe say they are struggling for business because of widespread misconceptions about the “cleanliness” of their food – exceptionally dark reading

Time Out rebrands to Time In as coronavirus ‘social distancing’ takes effect | The Drum – circumstance encouraged Time Out to rebrand, but the strong equity they have in their brand allowed them do so successfully, like Pizza Hut’s Pasta Hut or the Google Doodle

Madison Avenue Insights | Creative agencies: winning the battle but losing the warCreative agencies have mastered the requirements of integrated campaigns, from TV to online video, websites, Facebook, Instagram, ad banners and e-mail marketing. It’s a pity, then, that this victory is being undermined by agency price-cutting strategies that leave agencies understaffed and underpaid. Senior agency executives need to create winning business practices – they’re losing the business war. – great read by Michael Farmer. I suspect the piece that’s missing is the devastation wrought by procurement

Russian influence operations using netizens in Ghana to target African Americans – GrapfikaThe operation used authentic activists and users, fronted by an ostensible human rights NGO, to covertly propagate an influence campaign. It is not the first time such an attempt has been made, but the tactic is of concern. The unwitting individuals co-opted into the operation bear the risk of reputational or legal jeopardy; indeed, CNN reported that the Ghanaian operation was raided by law enforcement as a result of their online activities. For the human rights community, the risk is that genuine NGOs may be misidentified as being involved in influence operations by accident or malice, and there is also the danger of tarnishing the reputation of important work and organizations across the field – its a fascinating read – a mix of information ops, subterfuge and offshoring. The west African link is interesting

The Public Interest and Personal Privacy in a Time of Crisis (Part II) – Google Docs – part two of an essay by a Chinese academic- l linked to part one in this post

Between Privacy and Convenience: Facial Recognition Technology in the Eyes of Citizens in China, Germany, the UK and the US by Genia Kostka, Léa Steinacker, Miriam Meckel :: SSRN 

Lao Dongyan, “Artificial Intelligence” – Reading the China Dream – piece on biometric recognition

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Arbys trolls McDonald’s over Filet-O-Fish | US Today – you realise how important christianity is in the US when this is going on for the Lenten fish sandwich market. (As far as I can tell, Arbys is like Subway, but serves at least some of their sandwiches in a bap rather than a roll. And has a sides menu closer to say Pizza Hut.) Prayer meetings in the White House and creationism given equal time to evolution on NPR is one thing. Conscious christian consumerism is quite another for your average secular marketer to consider, which is why Arbys vs McDonald’s seem unusual.

Brand New: New Logo for BMW – looks a lot flatter, better for glanceable app icons, printing, possibly printed or vinyl car badges rather than the traditional car badge. More branding and marketing related items here.

Keep clean and carry on: the new etiquette of Paris Fashion Week | Financial Times – seems to be much more pragmatic than many events

Chinese teens are shying away from posting about their lives on WeChat to avoid prying parents | South China Morning Post – WeChat is where Facebook was in terms of ubiquity

Apple now allows iOS developers to send ads using push notifications – Developer Tech – this is going to be annoying

Repl.it – CLUI: Building a Graphical Command Line – interesting overlap with conversational interfaces

Didi Chuxing – State of play. – Radio Free Mobile – interesting analysis on Chinese government’s interference

The Dark Side of China’s Idol Economies | Jing Dailyenraged by Xiao fans’ censorship plot, millions of free speech activists began boycotting Xiao Zhan and the dozens of brands he campaigns for, including Estée Lauder, Piaget, and Qeelin. But they’ve gone further than the usual boycott by promoting competitors of Xiao-promoted brands, crashing Xiao-sponsored brands’ customer service lines, and pressuring those brands to end their collaborations with Xiao. So far, the Weibo hashtag #BoycottXiaoZhan# has exceeded 3450,000 posts and 260 million views.

Streetwear still hot, influencers not | Financial ReviewForty percent of North American and European respondents said that “community” had been key to their interest in streetwear; only 12% of Asian respondents said the same. (But 41% of Chinese and Japanese respondents said that wearing streetwear was a political act, something that only 11% of North Americans and Europeans reported.)

Biometric Recognition White Paper 2019 – Google Docs – good translation of an interesting Chinese biometrics whitepaper. Biometrics in China circa 2006 – presentation – and if you compare with this you’ll see the progress made over the past decade or so

Is Social Selling China’s Next Big Marketing Trend? | Jing Daily – actually being going on for a while with influencers like Mr Bags

Innovation of the Day | Panera – Panera launched its MyPanera+ Coffee subscription program, offering customers unlimited coffee for USD 8.99 a month. Burger King apparently did a similar scheme it would be interesting to hear how they got on

For a Whole Month, Pornhub Is Streaming Acclaimed Documentary ‘Shakedown’ for Free – interesting that documentary is running on PornHub

Mediatel News: How to make, break and shape consumer habits – But when Febreze added a nice smell and advertised the product as a spray to use at the end of cleaning – using the tagline ‘two sprays & we’re clean’ – it became very successful. This is because it created a new habit. It was able to do this because it created a consistent trigger and reward for use. The trigger was when someone finished cleaning. The reward was the added nice smell, which customers came to associate with a cleaning job well done. By having a consistent trigger (people often finish cleaning – or at least people who aren’t me often finish cleaning) and reward, the product shifted from failing launch to a billion dollar brand.

Catch the news in a glimpse with the new NewsBlur Today View widget on iOS – The NewsBlur Blog – if you aren’t using NewsBlur already, get on it. Like Google Reader, but alive and much better

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Mark Ritson: Coronavirus won’t hurt Corona, it will actually boost salesdifferentiation, particularly at the symbolic level, was overstated. Any evidence that people perceived Brand A as vastly different from Brand B could be largely explained by its size and prior purchase experiences. Purchase caused brand image, not vice versa. Ergo building a brand image was waste of marketing effort. The big job of brand was to create salience, so a brand came to mind in buying situations.

Pandemic brands – Wunderman Thompson Intelligence – nice counter-cyclical brand building and CSR during the corona virus outbreak

Terabytes Of Stolen Adult Content From OnlyFans Have LeakedThere are communities on Reddit and Telegram dedicated to cracking performers’ accounts and sharing the content without their consent. Many of those videos eventually make their way to various tube sites. A similarly large, though different, OnlyFans leak was posted last Saturday to forums dedicated to cracking and leaking pirated content – that is one of the bleakest things that I’ve read in a good while

Nando’s-inspired sex slang used by girls as young as 10 | Technology | The Guardian – you’ve got to wonder about what other level of monitoring and censorship is going on. I find this monitoring of kids distasteful.

Second-hand clothes sales: fashion forward | Financial Times – vintage all over again

porsche to print giant fingerprints of customers onto hood of 911 sport cars | Designboom – not sure I think its smart to post a copy of a biometric data on the bonnet of your car. These are the kind of people rich enough to personal safes and secure rooms with finger print locks. I’ve got visions of hackers working out how to take advantage of this

IBM and Microsoft sign Vatican pledge for ethical AI | Financial Timesthe pledge, called the “Rome Call for AI Ethics”, will be presented on Friday morning to Pope Francis by Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, and John Kelly, IBM’s executive vice-president, as well as Vatican officials and Qu Dongyu, the Chinese director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation – so it wasn’t a Vatican driven initiative after all but a public affairs exercise

Baidu/tech groups: traffic warning | Financial TimesBut higher traffic does not equate to higher income for search platforms. The contrast is with gaming, where more time playing means surging in-game purchases. For Baidu, which makes about three-quarters of total revenue from advertising, that is bad news. Even before the outbreak, a slowdown in China had trimmed the advertising budgets of clients. Marketing campaigns have now been cut further. Cancelled events and concerts contribute to the malaise. Baidu’s biggest clients, which include online gaming companies, real estate developers and plastic surgery clinics, have little incentive to advertise. A surge in new sign-ups for online games means fewer game ads are needed. Demand for homes has plunged and some cities have banned home sales altogether. Plastic surgery clinics, a lucrative source of core ad revenues, are taking a hit.

Twitter is testing new ways to fight misinformation — including a community-based points system – sounds curiously like Cory Doctorow’s concept of whuffie

How to deliver the personalization consumers want while respecting the privacy they expect | Think with Google – I am not convinced by the focus on mass personalisation. What about brand, culture etc?

Ogilvy brings on global executive creative directors for Instagram | Campaign Asia – God help us

Volvo Trucks – The Tower By Forsman & Bodenfors, Sweden – THEINSPIRATION.COM – interesting that they got the head of their business directly involved

Did America Forget How to Make the H-Bomb? – Mother Jones – and things are probably worse with processes reliant on electronic records

Chinese navy accused of using laser on US military aircraft | Financial Times – This reads like something from a William Gibson novel

Otl Aicher: The Olympic Designer Who Shaped Your Journey To The Toilet – FlashbakLike a paperclip, we don’t think of Aicher’s pictograms as designed objects per se, but rather as the objects themselves. The chairs we own are someone’s take on a chair. That’s not the case with the average, everyday paperclip. It is what it is, a paperclip. That’s it. Objects at this level of comprehension are simply there. They feel as though they have always been there, and did so from the moment they were presented to the masses. In every country, in every city, they are simply there. In the case of Aicher’s icons they’ve become shorthand that everyone can understand, a set of simple shapes that successfully tells us where to go when we need to use a bathroom. – pretty much sums it up

Google tops Facebook, Instagram in e-commerce activity, study finds | Mobile Marketer – context wins, but guessing that this may vary by category

LinkedIn | Balenciaga Summer 2020 collection video – Jay Owens – This is a genius bit of media buying for a collection themed around power and power dressing. The catwalk show saw private equity associates, architects & engineers stalk an EU-blue stage set like a parliamentary building. Advertising on LinkedIn now is just 👌– nails context

Featured Customer – Oscar the Grouch – Squarespace – I used to hate writing case studies for technology companies at the start of my career, but I do like this one that Squarespace did for Oscar the Grouch

How Japan’s family businesses use sons-in-law to bring in new blood | Financial TimesFor hundreds of years, owners of Japanese companies have been adopting their sons-in-law as a way to recruit talent — a practice known as mukoyoshi — giving rise to the saying “You can’t choose your sons, but you can choose your sons-in-law”. The histories of zaibatsu (conglomerate) families such as Sumitomo, Mitsui and Iwasaki (of the Mitsubishi group) are studded with adopted relatives and sons-in-law

The Sun posts £68m loss as it pays out £27m in legal costs over phone-hacking scandalHowever, revenue at News Group Newspapers for the 52 weeks ending 30 June 2019 were up, with total turnover growing to £420m in 2019 from £401.4m in 2018. Circulation of The Sun was down to 1.38 million last year from 1.51 million in 2018, and fell to 1.16 million from 1.28 million for The Sun on Sunday. – so despite revenue increasing losses were up. You also have to wonder how sustainable revenue increases can be with a declining audience

Smartphone startups take on Google, Apple and put privacy first | DW – I just can’t see these taking off. Interesting data on Google and consumer attitudes

How Adidas is using WhatsApp as a direct marketing channel – DigidayThe most recent example of the strategy was the “100% Unfair Predator” campaign. Earlier this month, Adidas opened up a hotline on WhatsApp for people in need of a footballer to cover for unreliable teammates on their team. Adidas-sponsored players were made available for games last week once fans had shared some basic information with the hotline such as the game they need the player for. The company’s marketers would notify fans on the morning of their game if their request was successful. The rented players turned up dressed in Adidas’ new Predator20 Mutator footwear. “We know our audience use it to share fixture info, team selection — and team-mates messaging to find last-minute replacements,” said Coveney. “WhatsApp was perfect for the more functional elements of the ‘Rent-a-Pred’ hotline as it allowed consumers to share private information one-to-one with us for review, before being allocated a Predator player near them.”

Unilever kicks off strategic review of personal-care brands | Campaign Live – this could get interesting

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Salience overloads advertising

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Salience is the buzz word of the moment in advertising circles.

What is salience?

According to Siri salience is a noun. It’s definition:

the property of being particularly noticeable or important.

Historically, when you tested an ad through the likes of Kantar. One of the attributes that an ad would be measured on is salience. Relatively recently salience has become a more important attribute in advertising from a marketing science point-of-view. But this shouldn’t be to the extent of eclipsing other attributes such as distinctive brand building.

Salience becomes pre-eminent

But now you see campaigns where salience is pre-eminent. I had only seen this in Asia in the past, where random endorsement choices looked to drive impact.

At one stage in the early noughties you could see Jackie Chan side-by-side with over 20 products including:

  • Canon cameras
  • Mitsubishi cars
  • An anti-hair loss shampoo that allegedly contained carcinogens
  • Zhongshan Subor – games consoles with a basic home computing capability. Subor ‘Learning Machines’ had educational programmes, games and provided Chinese children with an opportunity to try computer programming. Think of it as an analogue the Sinclair range of home computers in the UK
  • Fenhuang cola drink
Jackie Chan-branded Canon Rebel T2i / 550D
Jackie Chan branded Canon Rebel T2i / EOS 550D via M.I.C Gadget

A classic example of an ad that personifies salience is Burger King’s The Moldy Whopper.

The campaign is a one-off stunt designed to drive water-cooler talk. Some colleagues were at a breakfast event last week. The outtake that they took from the event was that the future of advertising is PR. Or to be more exact the publicity stunt.

I get it, creative directors are measured on memorable award-winning campaigns. They are less worried about effectiveness and brand lift. It’s sexy. And it moves things away from soul-crushing digital disruption-driven work. Big data, A-B testing that’s just aimed at sales conversion.

But publicity is just a short term effect, contrast this with effective advertising that can keep paying off for decades!

But when you’re doing stunt-after-stunt what does the brand stand for? I agree that a brand has to be distinctive, but to make a brand distinctive you need to reinforce it. Think about Coca-Cola; distinctive and instantly recognisable.

Don’t believe me, here’s what Mark Ritson said about it. Ritson uses ‘brand image’ as a way to discuss brand distinctiveness and visibility at a granular level in the ad:

The new global campaign from Burger King features a month old burger complete with the mould and decomposition that comes with it. Supposedly, this is a campaign aimed to promote the absence of preservatives. But is it good advertising? No. Showing a disgusting, mouldy version of your hero product to target consumers is – believe it or not – a really bad idea. So why are Burger King doing it? First, we see the ultimate exemplar of the focus on salience over image that is sweeping much of the advertising world. “It got me talking about it, so it is great marketing,” has been the response of many addled marketers to the new campaign. While it’s true that salience is a much bigger goal than we once thought, there is still a need to focus on brand image. All publicity is not good publicity. It’s also the latest in a long line of marketing stunts that Burger King has pulled. Hiding Bic Macs behind Whoppers in all their ads, asking consumers to order a Whopper online from a McDonalds, the list is long and stupid. It wins awards and gets marketers talking but it is eclipsed by KFC and McDonald’s less flashy, more enduring and more effective tactics. Same store sales growth over the last two years tells its own story. This is flashy, ineffective fare.

Mark Ritson on LinkedIn

Or Phil Barden who wrote Decoded:

From a behavioural science point of view this is a bizarre use of marketing money; Firstly, our attention and perception are implicit (‘system 1’) processes that are stimulus-bound. System 1 can’t imagine, it responds to stimuli. Kahneman uses the phrase ‘what you see is all there is’ and it is the stimulus (what you see) that will be decoded using our associative memories. The brain metaphorically asks the questions, ‘what is it, what does it represent, what’s in it for me’? The answers to these questions are ‘rotten food’ and ‘nothing’ because rotten food is a threat to survival. This triggers ‘avoid’ behaviour. Secondly, this image is highly likely to trigger ‘reactance’ which is emotional arousal with negative valence ie it’s unpleasant. Thirdly, memory structures are built on the basis on ‘what fires together wires together’. In this case, Burger King and rotten food. Fourthly, the category is hedonic; it’s all about enjoyment. Rotten food and enjoyment have no implicit intuitive association. The only saving grace for BK may be that their logo is such low contrast and the food is so salient that the brand may not be attributed to the image.

Phil Barden on LinkedIn

Many of Barden’s points are very specific to the mouldy burger creative. But points like attention and perception are implicit processes that are stimulus bound works against salience. It triggers related memories, which is distinctive brand building allows you to tap into. The importance of hedonic enjoyment plays against a lot of shock tactics used to get salience.

I am not saying that marketing campaigns shouldn’t have salience. Some of the best ads of all time use salience like Coca-Cola’s ‘Hilltop’ advert.

But that they shouldn’t be salient at the expense of other attributes of brand building. A side serving of salience adds cut through to consistent distinctive brand building. But balance in different attributes for an ad is needed.

For more on how to achieve a balance in attributes, I can recommend Building Distinctive Brand Assets by Jenni Romaniuk. The book is based on research by the Ehrensberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.

More on advertising here.