- 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
I’ve been a bit quiet due to work and life intervening. Alongside my work in looking at strategy through a data-centric lens I have also taken on a content strategy role on a project. This isn’t about:
- Coming up with a few social ideas
- Editorial direction
But a much wider approach that takes a systems approach to content. What it is, where should it be and how it should be refreshed. With this in in mind I can thoroughly recommend The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right by Meghan Casey.
Meghan also provides a set of downloadable template to make your life even easier. I found the book relatively easy to digest but still have it about as a reference book on my current project.
I can also recommend the current British Museum exhibition: The American Dream – pop to the present. I really liked the works from the NASA art programme by Robert Rauschenberg that celebrated the Apollo programme.
The Magic Lantern Festival reminded me a bit of the Chinese New Year fairs that I have been to in the past in terms of the hustle and bustle. Turnham Green tube station is just over a mile away on foot.
It’s hard to get good photographs of the displays because of the crowds, but I’ve put some of them here. The festival is open until the end of February.
Generally I find politics a bit too grubby and dirty for this blog and have only touched it when I absolutely, positively didn’t have a choice.
On June 23, 2016 the UK goes to the polls to vote on whether the country should stay in or leave the European Union.
Over the next few days I will be writing two posts (this is the first one). The first of which is about how it has all been presented. The second post will be a guide for my non-UK based friends on what the hell it all means.
Political marketing generally isn’t the most amazing work, though there have been iconic campaigns. Given the momentous decision ahead of voters you would think that there would be a creative advertising campaign.
The US has led the way in iconic political campaigns. My favourites being the ‘Daisy’ ad used by Lyndon B. Johnson against Barry Goldwater.
Ronald Reagan’s ‘It’s morning in America again’ which is curiously soothing yet exceptionally emotive
Barack Obama’s simple messages of ‘Hope’, ‘Change You Can Believe In’ and ‘Yes We Can’ together with a focus on repetition and reach brought out the vote in his favour.
The UK has come up with good campaigns too; the Saatchi brothers ‘Britain Isn’t Working’ that helped get Margaret Thatcher the first time around. Ironically the poster doesn’t contain real unemployed people, but 20 Conservative party members shot over and over again to create the ‘conga line’.
It is such an iconic poster that the Labour party still has to jump over the hurdle of proving it wrong 30 years after its publication.
By comparison Vote In’s adverts lack… creativity and any sort of emotion to pull the audience in. It is like they are selling machine parts to procurement professionals, not a life-changing decision.
Vote Leave isn’t much better. Let’s start off with their domain strategy ‘voteleavetakecontrol.org’ – Google’s Adwords team must have been rubbing their hands with joy. For a campaign the ideal URL would have been voteleave.co.uk (which is a rick roll link) or brexit.com. According to redirect on brexit.com
www.Brexit.com & www.Brexit.co.uk were offered to the various national Out campaign groups for no charge.
After no contact was offered in response it is now up for sale.
School boy error. If you look at their content, they have managed to latch on to emotive themes, but the production values of the material look as it has been done by Dave in Doncaster who does wedding videos on the weekend.
And as we have less than a week to go to the polls the quality of the marketing isn’t likely to get any better.
In fact, the best piece of advertising for either side that I have seen was in Whitechapel. It is simple, snappy, emotive and likely done by an art student given the lack of declaration of campaign affiliation (i.e. a call to action to visit strongerin.co.uk or a claim that it was done on behalf of ‘Stronger In’ or ‘The In Campaign Limited’).
One last thought to ponder in this post
WPP in particular has a reputation for hiring marketing talent from political campaigns, and these people are sold on to clients as fresh thinkers and doers for their brands. Positive examples of this would be Obama campaign veterans Thomas Gensemer and Amy Gershkoff, or my old colleague Pat Ford who worked on Ronald Reagan’s campaign.
There will be marketers getting jobs with serious salaries on the back of this work and the designer of ‘Brits Don’t Quit’ will be working in an intern farm somewhere if they’re lucky. Life just isn’t fair.
Campaign on Labour Isn’t Working.
Ryanair’s EU referendum ad investigated by police | The Guardian – it might be illegal, but at least it has a pulse.
Thomas Gensemer LinkedIn profile
Amy Gershkoff LinkedIn profile
Patrick Ford LinkedIn profile
The Korean Cultural Centre has a fortnightly screening of films. The latest one that I went to was Granny’s Got Talent or 헬머니 (pronounced Helmeoni – a literal translation would be Hell Granny).
The premise is built around an old woman who is released from jail. She lost contact with her eldest son and tries to build that connection whilst living with her youngest son. The eldest son is a salary man with an over-bearing set of rich in-laws. The youngest son an inveterate gambler. To bail the youngest son out of trouble she participates in a Korean reality TV show based around cursing and chaos ensues. Veteran Korean actress carries off the role of Hell Granny with aplomb. I laughed so hard at some points I ended up crying.
The raucous bawdy humour works despite subtitles and has some amazing comedic set-pieces. But this rudeness is only the top layer in the story, where the viewer gets a glimpse at the hard life a strong woman had to live in a fast-developing South Korea.
The film works on a number of levels touching a number of distinctly Korean themes including the obsession with hierarchy, its turbulent political past, the corrupt aspects of chaebols and the love of family (no matter how dysfunctional).
Movie page on Daum in Korean
I went to the Hacks and Hackers presentations this evening host at the Institute of Directors and here is a summary of the notes that I made.
Simon Rogers is ex-Guardian and Twitter. He talked about how Google uses Google Trends, combining it with third party data such as information from the likes of Associated Press. They build some nice visualisations around them. Most of the data that they used was basically the same data that consumers had access to through the Google Trends tool. Google seem to deliberately restrained in terms of the data that they could deploy on this, but they did work on tightening up and redefining regions from the way their internal data held it to the way it related to the real world.
There was some nice work done that looked at associated search terms that came up by people who searched for US presidential candidate names. It reminded me of the work that Hunch did around consumer behaviour patterns and likely political beliefs – but less sophisticated. (Hunch was bought by eBay and eventually shut down).
Kate Day talked about the launch of US site Politico in Europe. The business had a split business model with a B2B subscription offering that provided European Parliament intelligence. and a more conventional consumer advertising audience model which targeted people who were professionally interested in European parliamentary politics.
From an editorial point of view stories which drove big peaks in traffic often brought in the wrong kind of audience who either wouldn’t be likely to return, or ‘get’ the content on offer.
Targeting on social media was purely done through careful selection of the copywriting, which requires professional knowledge and a desire to self select as a ‘policy wonk’ rather than using Facebook or Twitter’s ad targeting mechanisms. In common with other subject areas regular coverage of a beat area matters to drive continued engagement. Politico has managed to get UK press scoops by showing up at all the press briefings in Brussels rather than following the British eurocrat events – this probably says a lot about the small size of teams that other national news outlets have operating there.
These are the ten most trafficked posts that I wrote in 2015, in reverse order:
Throwback gadget: Nokia N900 – I tried Nokia’s first Maemo-based phone. It was amazing how useless it was as one forgets how linked the modern smartphone is to web services. Despite these problems one could see the now lost potential of the phone.
Generational user experience effects – a meditation on user experience from the analogue era to the present
Reflecting on Yahoo!’s Q2 2015 progress report on product prioritisation – by June this year, the product rationalisation that Yahoo! underwent provided ample opportunity to show that it’s core offering was collapsing in many international markets. Rather than it being a market wide condition, the data pointed to Yahoo! specific issues.
Traackr – beyond the buzzword event – a post about how a diverse range of organisations from Coca-Cola to a luxury jeweller were thinking about influencer marketing.
Throwback gadget: Made 2 Fade (by KAM) GM-25 Mk II phono pre-amp and mixer – a review of a mixer that has been lost in dance music culture history, yet was responsible for much of its popularity outside the super clubs.
That Jeremy Clarkson post (or lies, damn lies and sentiment analysis) – or why everyone from the mainstream media to PR Week got the story so wrong about Jeremy Clarkson’s departure from Top Gear.
An experiment on fake Twitter followers – I spent some of my hard-earned cash to see what difference if any buying fake followers had. I chose Twitter as a channel mainly because it would be easier to measure any impact, otherwise it could have just as easily been Facebook followers, Pinterest subscribers or Instagram followers. My overall conclusion on the fake follower business is that it almost purely about personal vanity rather than gaming a system.
O2O (online to offline) or what we can learn from the Chinese – East Asia is way ahead of marketers in the west in terms of multi-channel marketing particularly the integration of of online with offline aspects.
48 hours with the Apple Watch – hands down the most popular post of this year on my blog was my short experience living with the Apple Watch. I felt that it was a nicely designed, but un-Apple experience. It also convinced me that the use case for wearables wasn’t here yet.
Thanks to the lovely people at Sprinklr I got to meet Jay Baer and hang out with some of my digital brethren here in london.
The venue was The Modern Pantry which is just around the corner from The Zetter. The food was a mix of European cuisine and both meat lovers and vegetarians are catered for. The dishes all seemed to use seasonal produce so I enjoyed a pumpkin based main course.
The venue is sufficiently small that the noise never gets too loud making it ideal for a business lunch. The ambience is not too formal and stuffy in terms of the decor with what I guess might be called ‘farmhouse’ style furniture with traditional wooden tables that had been given a ‘washed’ type paint finish. The food was really good. They open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are looking for a business lunch location in Clerkenwell, you could do a lot worse than The Modern Pantry.
The Modern Pantry
47-48 St John’s Square,
020 7553 9210
One of the best kept secrets in London is the free sessions put on by the Korean Cultural Centre just off Trafalgar Square. I caught the last film of the year to be shown at the centre. No blood No tears is a Korean heist story. Gyung-Sun is a former safe-cracker who has reformed and become a taxi driver.
Her husband is in the wind and left behind a lot of gambling debts that local loan sharks try to collect on. She doesn’t know where her child is and to cap it all Gyung-Sun has a difficult relationship with the police and her short temper.
A chance car accident brings her into contact with a petty gangsters moll and a plot ensues to rob the dog fighting arena where illegal gambling takes place. What ensues is a film that is part comedy, part Thelma & Louise and a healthy dose of ultra-violence that would be familiar to Hong Kong cinema and Tarantino fans.
Over the next few weeks I will be getting my fix of Korean cinema at the London Korean Film Festival. I can recommend from personal experience:
- Raging Currents
- The Man From Nowhere
- The Classified File
Having been involved in a number of events over the past couple of years where creative digital work intersected with experiential marketing I was keen to look at Louis Vuitton’s Series 3 exhibition before it closed.
Burberry tends to get the plaudits for digital experiences in the luxury sector and they do a lot of interesting work. Louis Vuitton’s initiatives like an online service that allows ladies to personalise their bag a la Nike ID.
I found it interesting that Louis Vuitton’s approach seems to have been guided by exclusivity not being the same as accessibility. There was a wealth of helpful staff, you were positively encouraged to take your own pictures – again unusual for a luxury brand, many prefer to give you content that upholds their standards.
A few touches that I really liked
LV logo motion graphics at the start of the exhibition, no real surprise right? What the designers did was remove the polarisers from the LCD screens so that the screens are apparently blank. The polariser is laid out in vertical strips at different distances and widths from the screen. This gives a kind of lenticular effect when you walk past it. This modern logo morphs through matrix-like digital noise and on to the more traditional LV design.
It seems absurdly simple, but the idea of using projecting mapping techniques on a flat LED screen to emphasise how Louis Vuitton products are cut from a common material before being assembled was clever. Just because you have projection mapping technology at your finger tips means that one often looks for complex shapes like building fronts rather than a flat panel.
Getting the balance right between protecting the product so that it doesn’t look grubby from being over-handled, whilst still making it accessible and tactile rather than a museum experience.
Ron Arad is more famous for his architecture and art than product design. I went along to see him speak at an event that is part of London Design Festival last week thanks to the China-Britain Cultural Exchange Association. Arad’s presentation felt largely unplanned as the curator of the talk asked him to jump around from project to project rather than a clear narrative being presented. Arad showed imagery or video that he then talked around.
During the presentation Arad showed off the design concept that he did for LG that pre-dated the iPad. It sounded at the event like he had started his thinking in 1997, but the sources I looked at online stated that this project was done in 2002 and the video copy I found on YouTube states that the copyright is 2003.
The video is quite prescient in a number of ways
- The device was primarily about content consumption and messaging
- He nailed the in-home use case, with the exception of realising that the iPad may be a communal shared device rather than belonging to an individual
- It has a flat design interface (though this might be a limitation of their ability to create it on video and a spin on the circular LG logo)
- The soft keyboard on screen
- There is no stylus
There was auto-rotation of the screen
- It has no user serviceable parts (this was at the time when cellphones and laptops came with detachable batteries)
- Inductive charging with a table rather than the small pad used by the like of the Microsoft/Nokia Lumia devices
- The way the controls where superimposed on footage of the user working with the device is reminiscent of the way TV and films are now treating parts of a plot that involves messaging
There were a few things that it got wrong:
- Arad clearly didn’t understand the significance of the iPod, so the device had an optical drive rather than side loaded video content
- The device is really big, more like a laptop screen than a phablet, a la the iPad Mini or Galaxy Tab
- The form factor was too thick, understandably so when they are trying to squeeze a battery and optical drive in the device, the thickness had a benefit in that the device was self-standing. Apple relied on covers and cases to provide the standing mechanism
It has become a tradition that my friend Simon and I meet up to catch Dreadzone on their annual tour last Friday. Simon had come in from Saudi Arabia so its a pretty big deal for us. This was the first time I had been to a gig at Under The Bridge. The space is a purpose-built live venue under the stadium where Chelsea play.
It is the most comfortable venue that I have been to. Molton Brown products in the toilet, spotless facilities, comfortable seats and a stand-up area in front of the stage. There are screens all around the venue to allow you to follow the gig and a great sound system.
Dreadzone put on a great gig, lower energy then previous gigs I had seen them at, but still a great performance. The location of the venue brought out a really mixed audience. Friends and family of the band, long-time Dreadzone fans, middle class professionals with fading celtic tattoos, elderly punks and older mods. I suspect that there were some locals as well, nice young things who looked rah.
The gig seemed to be supporting the reissue of Dreadzone’s second album Sound, which is due to be repressed on vinyl.
Seven Dials got in touch regarding forthcoming exhibitions at Atomica in Seven Dials area of Covent Garden. The Vision Quest exhibition work seems to tap into everything from mid-century commercial art, pulp fiction novel covers and surrealism.
The works are worthwhile checking out whilst blitzing the shopping area around Seven Dials. Check out the Atomica Gallery site for more details and directions etc.