Archive for Advertising

Nokia Phone v/s Golf Club: Entertaining Proof of Performance Advertising

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“Is Creativity a Commodity?” (Asks Bogusky)

Just one of the thought-provoking nuggets from Jeremy Abelson’s interview with Alex Bogusky.

They are the agency that developed the recent Microsoft campaign and Bogusky’s explanation of their approach is  interesting:

When we started working on this we swung everyone in the agency over to PC’s, and really all of the senior people on the account are working on PCs, and we thought it was really important because we do a thing called method advertising, which is if you don’t use it, you don’t know how to talk about it. And I think in the past Microsoft’s creative had a lot of swirly magical kind of stuff going on, and it might have been because their agencies weren’t working on PCs. So once you start working on it and you understand you can do a better job on it, and I think we’ve done a really good job on it and, you know, one of the key factors is that we use them. I had never worked on a computer other than an Apple, and I thought, “Oh my god! Will I be able to do this?”

Watch the interview or read the entire transcript here.

Meanwhile, on the subject of creativity being a commodity, here’s a topical article on “Dumb Dads in Advertising”.

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Simplifying Online Marketing

If you’re like me and spend most of your time and money developing marketing campaigns centred around TV advertising, you’ve probably been trying to make sense of the whole Internet / Online Marketing thing.

Josh Bernoff’s excellent graphic on consumer trust got me thinking about how online marketing is similar to TV advertising and other traditional marketing channels, and equally important, how it’s not.

1. TV advertising is one-way communication. The Internet is interactive, so a common fallacy is that it’s two-way. Actually it’s more likely to be either one-way (Audience gets your message, does nothing), occasionally two-way (Audience tells you what she thinks) and sometimes many-way (Audience tells others what she thinks about your product / message). Now the last one may be through a blog or a social network website, and these are quite the trendy buzzwords among PR firms these days, but Josh’s chart above together with HP Lab’s paper on social networks shows that the valuable part of people’s networks is (a) smaller than it appears and (b) mostly to do with e-mail. Consider: would you have more faith in something that a friend actively e-mailed to you or something that a stranger wrote on his blog, no matter how well-written or entertaining. So the task is to develop communication or content that people can share with their friends and perhaps modify or personalize, ideally via e-mail.

2. There are hundreds of channels and thousands (millions?) of programs on TV and we use data (ratings) about what consumers are watching to decide where to place our spots to achieve our GRP/TRP goal of reaching x% of our target audience with a certain frequency (usually a single digit number). The same approach should work online. With a little bit of research, we can find out (a) what the most popular search engine is in a given market (hint: it’s not always Google) and (b) what keywords our audience uses when they are searching for information on our product category. I imagine that someone who plans to buy a camcorder in an English-speaking market would probably google “Camcorder reviews”. (I did.)  This behaviour coupled with the right information actually makes it easier to develop highly effective online “media plans”, quite probably at a very low cost (yet) and at a very high frequency.

3. The data in the chart above suggests that online customer reviews are the most effective form of PR. Using the Google keyword approach above should help identify the websites where our audience most often finds these reviews. (I went to The chart makes it clear that getting honest favourable reviews onto these websites is far more effective than giving free samples to a large number of bloggers. Beware of unethical competitors who may be using “professional reviewers” to considerable effect. Don’t discount the value of traditional PR in print newspapers and magazines which still rank very highly on consumer trust. Even TV is trusted more than personal blogs, although it’s not clear if this refers to advertising (unlikely) or TV news and talk shows (more likely).

4. Yellow pages (not online) is a bit of a surprise in this chart. Depending on the context, a careful review of what the audience does on a typical day and where they look for information on our category or when they are most receptive to that information might reveal some unexpected channels or touchpoints – very likely in the real (not online) world. Like the hunt for a great advertising insight, this is one of the things that makes marketeer’s jobs interesting!

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Successful online marketing: Widgets or Advertisements?

Advertising Age writes about Widgets becoming the grail of online marketing:

Fridge Magnet

Branded widgets are the refrigerator magnets of the Brave New World.

The widget may not be the holy grail, but it’s arguably pretty damn grail-ish — maybe the highest expression so far of online marketing in the Post-Advertising Age..



Al Wittemen, in an article in The Hub magazine, has an interesting take:

…digital is the way to amplify shopper-marketing programs and make them relevant to shoppers at home, outside the  home as well as in the store.

This widget from Johnnie Walker Whisky (via Contagious)  seems to illustrate what Al is talking about:

Jennie’ is a mobile based application which combines two of 2007’s hottest topics – avatars and widgets – to produce a nifty little service aimed at helping even the most sociable of bar-hoppers get around. According to Marketing Interactive, Jennie is able to do everything from planning social calendars and providing useful tips on bars and clubs to procuring event invitations. Apparently, she’ll even help you get home at night:
‘The application has four main functions on the menu – ‘Take Me There’, ‘Tell Me When’, ‘What’s Hot’, and ‘Take Me Home’ with the latter allowing the user to either book a taxi or send an SMS to a designated driver when it is time to go home.


What about online advertising? These days, the conventional wisdom is that targeted ads (eg Google ‘Sponsored Links’) are a smarter investment than banner ads.  But there seems to be value in banner ads when they are coupled with the right business model. I recently saw banner ads from this campaign on almost every site that I regularly visit and some that I was visiting just once:


That ad is hard to miss because of the choice of words and the unusual font.  After seeing the ad about thirty times in one month, I was intrigued enough to go and see what it was all about. Clicking on the ad leads to an ‘infomercial’ type website with a classic sales ‘pitch’ approach. Although I didn’t buy what they were selling, the pitch is pretty good and deserves a look-see.  See what happens when you leave the site without making a purchase! (It’s quite safe).

It’s not easy to say which approach is better and I’m sure they both have their pros and cons depending on what you’re selling. However, despite all the hype surrounding widgets, it seems to me that a smart “banner ad media plan” combined with an effective infomercial / pitch website could be very effective in generating sales – the real holy grail of online (and offline) marketing.

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New Sony Walkman Ad Campaign: Is the Medium really the Message?

Chip Heath, professor of organizational behavior in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, took issue with Marshall McLuhan in a recent interview with McQ:

In truth, the message is the message. People who think too much about the medium—opt-in newsletters, the Internet, Web 2.0—are making the same mistake that people have made for years in education. Remember how the 8-millimeter film was going to revolutionize education? Then the VCR? Then the personal computer? The medium can certainly help, but an 8-millimeter film didn’t salvage a bad math lesson.

Case in point, the new advertising campaign for the Sony Walkman is claimed to be the first ‘monophonic ad’, created by deconstructing an original musical work into individual notes, then recruiting 128 musicians and giving them each just one note to play, thereby re-constructing the original melody, in spectacular waves of sound and movement.

Advertising that entertains, delivers the message and gets talked about – it can’t get any better than this.

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Advertising: Art, Science or… Fashion?!

Sir John Hegarty of BBH puts forth his point of view.

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The rules of effective advertising slogans?

Nick Padmore has analyzed the 20th century’s 115 best slogans, straplines, taglines, and headlines, as nominated by some of the stars of creative advertising, and tried to find a pattern that spells out how to do this successfully.

  1. Be five words in length.
  2. Not mention the brand name.
  3. Be declarative.
  4. Be grammatically complete.
  5. Be otherwise standard.
  6. Contain alliteration, metaphor, or rhyme.

Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, but the analysis shows that the majority of the best slogans et al. do fit this pattern.

Here’s a provocative chart from the analysis:

In the same vein, here’s an interesting excerpt from MIT’s Adverblog:

Match these brands – Sony, Hummer, Mercedes, Haagen Dazs – with their slogans: “like nothing else”, “made like no other”, “like no other”, “unlike any other”.

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Sony Patents Telepathy

Two seemingly unrelated articles from MIT’s Adverlab point to the future of advertising.

 “Sony Corp. has been granted a patent for beaming sensory information directly into the brain.”


Wired writes on emerging mind control ad technology that lots of people are dismissing as bogus science (a recent conference on neuromarketing had to be canceled due to lack of interest): “Scientists are scanning brain activity in the hopes of catching sight of the physical mechanisms that determine whether you prefer Coke over Pepsi. The nascent research, known as “neuromarketing,” could one day lead to new advertising strategies that directly stimulate hard-wired mental reflexes rather than appealing to fuzzy consumer attitudes.” It’s interesting that CalTech is already in the game.

Is another “creative art form” going to become a mechanistic, computer-driven science?

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How to build brands online: 3 successful cases

Much of the past one year’s debate and discussion at various marketing fora, real and virtual, centres on “new media” or “digital media”, meaning the Internet and Mobile/Wireless media. This is my personal selection of some of the best uses to which it has been put:

1. BMW Films
Using the insight that 85% of their target consumers used the Internet before buying a BMW, a series of short films were created by some of the greatest action movie directors, aired only via the Internet (and widely distributed over e-mail). Read the entire story here.

2. Dove Evolution
A 75-second film released only on the Internet, it showcases the typical make-over of a model into the unreal yet so-familiar beauty that we see in cosmetics advertising. Over a million views on Youtube, deep penetration of the blogosphere, and tremendous impact for the brand. Read here for the full story, including a very detailed analysis of the campaign and its impact.

3. Toyota Scion in Second Life
The first brand to enter the virtual world of Second Life, with a virtual dealership featuring customizable versions of the cars. All the details are here.

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The present & future of advertising: 2 kinds of Tubes

Two articles at Cool News caught my attention recently, being about developments in advertising at opposite ends of the spectrum:

The first was about YouTube. Lee Gomes recently scraped it and discovered some interesting statistics:

  • There are more than 6.1 million videos on YouTube now.
  • The number is growing at about 20% per month.
  • The most popular titles include the words ‘love’, ‘music’ and’girl’.
  • Nearly 2000 videos have ‘Zidane‘ in the title.
  • 70% of users are American.
  • Nearly half are under 20 years of age.

The second was about advertising on the London Tube, which is a $3 billion, 8 year contract won by CBS, whose innovations include:

  • A glue-less dust-free poster co-created with 3M.
  • Cascading flat-panel TVs adjoining the escalators, which are capable of showing a series of rubber balls bouncing from one screen to another, following commuters as they ride down the escalator.
  • Super-strong screens for the TVs which can withstand 5 blows from a sledgehammer.
  • Lightboxes for the corridors leading to platforms.

All told, CBS has invested “about $136 million on new advertising equipment in the Tube, including 8,300 glueless poster sites, 150 projectors, about 2,000 video screens and 4,500 light boxes.” (From )

That’s a lot of money bet on the next 8 years. Clearly CBS expects the Tube to be generate a considerable return on this investment through advertising to the captive audience travelling to and from work. It’s a vision of the future that is quite different from the one over at YouTube. Which one do you think will come about?

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