See the Unseen – Volkswagen’s Taureg advert focuses on one feature and creatively sells it. This doesn’t look like your typical car advert. It will be interesting to see if See the Unseen is a one-off or marks an industry departure of from the usual car ads. It has none of the cliches: an anonymous driver speeding over winding roads, or millennials heading for a cool night out in the city. If Unilever sold cars, this is what the ad would look like.
I hadn’t seen Coca Cola’s ‘Open’ ad before by Wieden & Kennedy. Its a very different execution that still goes back to core distinctive brand values.
I could write a good deal about it but Mediatel has done it better:
In many ways (and over many years, minus the odd deviation) this is classic Coke territory, with a direct lineage back to the 1970s blockbuster ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing’: Coke as unifier, as socialiser, as harmoniser, as the vehicle through which ordinary citizens come together.
TEVA Pharmaceuticals’ ‘Hairspray’ done by VCCP is an amazing patient advocacy spot. That uses emotion in such a great way. Often its hard to get a patient advocacy film that hasn’t had the creative become bland. This was the kind of brief and piece of work that I would have loved to have done.
Rent a Pred by Adidas – interesting how they’ve integrated WhatsApp into this campaign. Slightly dodgy title but really good execution promoting the latest version of Adidas’ premium football boot.
Tokyo 2020 unveils first ever animated pictograms used in Olympics’ history. This is a beautiful piece of work that hints at the ubiquity of digital signage and the heritage of Otl Aicher’s work for the 1972 Munich Olympics – which defined a so much of late 20th century signage afterwards. Masaaki Hiromura’s designs were animated by Kota Iguchi. The lightening of the icons helps the animation to work better.
Mark Ritson: Coronavirus won’t hurt Corona, it will actually boost sales – differentiation, 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.
Terabytes Of Stolen Adult Content From OnlyFans Have Leaked – There 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
IBM and Microsoft sign Vatican pledge for ethical AI | Financial Times – the 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 Times – But 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.
Otl Aicher: The Olympic Designer Who Shaped Your Journey To The Toilet – Flashbak – Like 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
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
How Japan’s family businesses use sons-in-law to bring in new blood | Financial Times – For 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 scandal – However, 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
How Adidas is using WhatsApp as a direct marketing channel – Digiday – The 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.”
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:
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
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.
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.
Great mix by Andy Weatherall. It is interesting that for a considerable amount of time there was destination radio and a loyal taping culture. Some cassette decks featured timers similar to a video recorder. People would set them up before they left. Prior to digital formats becoming commonplace, I remember die-hard fans using VHS Hi-Fi audio recording to capture these shows in as high a quality as possible. More listening material here.
Targeting v context | Campaign Live – really interesting article by Dave Trott. I’d argue (like Dave has) targeting and context together is what matters, rather than targeting or context.
WSJ City | Victoria’s Secret goes private at $1.1 billion valuation – this is down from over $7 billion. This marks the end of an astonishing destruction of value. The company was also quick to get the power of online. Designers now think live-streaming their show is a matter of course. Back in 1999 I worked at an agency where we did their first live stream. They were also quick to get into e-commerce.
The power of niche | Campaign magazine – Dave Trott on GOOP – The New York Times said: “The weirder GOOP went, the more its readers rejoiced. Every time there was a negative story about her or her company all it did was bring more people to the site.” Paltrow told a class of Harvard students: “What I do is create a cultural firestorm, and I can monetise those eyeballs.” – cultural firestorm or memorable cultural industrial accident? I agree with Trott to a point. But I can’t work out if GOOP is doing ‘good’ outrage like Benetton managed to do with its ad campaigns, or ‘bad’ outrage like Michael O’Leary at Ryanair. Secondly, you might buy GOOP earrings but would you tell anyone where you bought them? Would they be judging you because you’re a GOOP customer. The problem GOOP has is that it’s not causing outrage with the old or conservative per se. It’s more likely to be customer’s peers thinking that as a GOOP customer you buy into bunkum of Palthrow. Brand neighbourhoods are still important and GOOP nestles comfortably in crank corner with David Icke and Uri Geller. More on beauty related stories here.
South Korea’s Government Explores Move From Windows To Linux Desktop | Slashdot – The reason for this is simple. It’s to reduce software licensing costs and the government’s reliance on Windows. As Choi Jang-hyuk, the head of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, said, “We will resolve our dependency on a single company while reducing the budget by introducing an open-source operating system.” – back in the day South Korean online security depended on support for ActiveX, how far things have moved on
Slick Inbox – interesting idea. BUT RSS, VIP section in mail.app are all competitors
How Your Laptop Ruined Your Life | The Atlantic – Earlier this week, a woman managed to find a seat next to me on the train, took out her laptop, and started plugging away at a spreadsheet. The sight filled me with dread, as it does every time I spot a fellow commuter writing code or finessing a PowerPoint while I listen to podcasts. I suddenly became much more aware of the hard, thin edge of my own work computer, digging into my thigh through my tote bag. – Whatever happened to thinking time?
What Happens When a High-Tech Apparel Brand Shares the Same Name as the Company that Backed the Controversial Iowa Caucus App? — The Fashion Law – Not nearly as under-the-radar as ACRONYM, the political organization, ACRONYM, the apparel company, is, nonetheless, situated more behind-the-scenes than the majority of its peers. As writer Adam Wray detailed in 2013, “You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about ACRONYM.” Despite having significant clout when it comes to technologically-advanced apparel and amassing a list of famous fans (think: Kanye West, John Mayer, Jason Statham, best-selling author William Gibson, and mixed martial arts champ Max Holloway, just to name a few), “the company never advertises and with no public relations strategy to speak of, its founders are tough to reach.” Hugh and his co-founder slash business partner Michaela Sachenbacher “prefer to let their designs” – which are heavy on the GORE-TEX technology and utilitarian-focused hacks, and too expensive for most – “speak for themselves.” Yet, “whether you know it or not, [ACRONYM has] been pacing the vanguard of technically-focused fashion for nearly two decades.” – having worked in an office with the unfortunate name of ISIS House, an acronym that it shared with a terrorist organisation I can understand some of the pain for Errolson Hugh and company
精進カップラーメン | zen-foods – vegan friendly instant noodles, I’d be surprised if these don’t start appearing in Whole Foods soon
‘A bit impersonal’: The rise of influencer marketing agencies rankles influencers – Digiday – “When I reach out to brands directly, they tell me to apply for their programs through their affiliated network, which means I lose whatever personal connections I might’ve had and the ability to negotiate,” Groffman said. A company he had worked with for years recently referred him to its influencer network, he added. “Influencer marketing has finally matured as an industry,” explained Kristy Sammis, executive director of the Influencer Marketing Association, in an email. “Brands are now willing to allocate significant budget to strategic influencer programs. This means they need scale, benchmarks, and guarantees. That’s simply not possible with one-on-one influencer relationships.” Currently, influencers lack a standardized set of rates, yet a myriad factors can go into setting a price. That said, a $10 cost per thousand impressions is a baseline for influencers working on Instagram and Instagram Stories, according to Village Marketing founder Vickie Segar. She added that for every 100,000 followers, that rate grants an influencer $1,000 a post. Plus, companies and influencers might additionally negotiate usage rights and exclusivity, which could increase the fee. Terms vary by company, but payment can take from 30 days to 120 days – it’s probably because brands don’t want to have to filter out chancers and assholes themselves. Secondly, algorithms mean influencers are no longer an effective form of reach
The Era of Antisocial Social Media | HBR – saying that after years spent constructing carefully curated online identities and accumulating heaps of online “friends,” they want to be themselves and make real friends based on shared interests. They’re also craving privacy, safety, and a respite from the throngs of people on social platforms — throngs that now usually include their parents. To reach these younger audiences on social, marketers are going to have to re-think their approach. The first step is to understand the distinct characteristics of these more closed, and often more private and interactive online spaces. Since I believe that naming a trend helps provide a framework for understanding it, I have dubbed these spaces “digital campfires.” – to misquote Satre Hell is other people. From a brand perspective digital campfires are more attractive than the digital dumpster fires that channels like Twitter and YouTube often descend into
When China’s Long Game Short Circuits | Echowall – many of the examples of long-term policymaking in China collapse under closer scrutiny, whether in the area of environmental protection, infrastructure or population policy. For example, China’s solar power growth has been driven by government subsidies, resulting in market distortion, huge debt and waste. In the construction of infrastructure, such as the high-speed rail system and local airports, there is lack of coordination and long-term planning – not terribly surprising
Inside Huawei’s first 5G phone: Teardown reveals rush to innovate – Nikkei Asian Review – interesting analysis of the design approach. The design is surprisingly messy. This implies a few things. Huawei had to rush as it was behind. The phone isn’t as ‘premium’ as Huawei would like to believe, its the smartphone equivalent of having Irish travellers tarmac your drive. Huawei is leaving money on the table by not optimising their designs.