Tag: Dan Plant

Oh X-factor, what has happened to you?

I wanted to write a post about the demise of X-factor and the latest news on Frankie Cokenozza (Thankyou The Sun) but then I read this article on Daily Mash and realised that they had said everything I wanted to say but more eloquently than I ever could – so enjoy!

Cringe-worthy boy-band actually makes for a half decent ad!

I’m a little bit late with this post, but I wanted to comment briefly on the recent Yeo Valley Campaign that launched a couple of weeks back.

For the second year in a row Yeo Valley “released” an epic musical number in the first break of the first live X-factor. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it featured a group of slightly too attractive “farmers” singing a Westlife style boy-band (the Churned) ballad (Forever) with a West-Country backdrop. This is the sequel to last year’s “rapping farmers” and whilst personally I don’t love it quite as much, I do think that this is a great example of sustainable advertising (see a couple of posts ago for more on this)

As an example of “sustainable communications” it is particularly nice in that it demonstrates that you can invest in and improve a consumer’s experience of their media without having to sponsor or ad-fund content.

I believe that this advert augments the enjoyment of people watching the X-factor because it clearly understands and plays to the specific frame of mind that those viewers find themselves in at that point. Cheesy manufactured boy-bands are the essence of X-factor and are the guilty pleasure of all who watch, so spending 2 minutes watching some bare chested boys do a tribute/parody to that is exactly what the doctor ordered for the commercial break. This relevant, informative and entertaining content delivered in such a timely fashion is a perfect example of the sustainable communications that I long to see more of.

Other things that they have done right –

1) there are not too many ratings behind this spot – they are primarily focusing on the X-factor and similar programming to ensure a tight fit with and maximum relevance for their core audience. This means they don’t have to worry about out-staying their welcome and starting to irritate and can focus on entertaining the audience that will appreciate it the most

2)They have made sure that a tangible product message is still core to the idea – (that Yeo Valley is made from milk that is sustainably farmed by West Country farmers who care about the countryside) – They have even included the lyrics in a karaoke style version of the ad that has followed more recently to make the message unmissable – Basically they have given me an actual reason to choose the product rather than to just “like” the TV ad

On an aside, I find it interesting that Yeo Valley have managed to create more noise than even Muller’s epic “Wunderful stuff” campaign that launched on the same day, in the same show and with a much more expensive ad and vastly larger advertising budget. The Muller stuff just seems to fall flat for me. It has all the theoretical ingredients for a viral hit, but viewers haven’t really fallen in love with it in the same way.

I think the difference is that Muller looks like it was made for the maximum entertainment of people who work in advertising, they’ve ticked lots of boxes of perceived retro cultural icons that are “cool” whereas the Yeo Valley work is all about appealing to my Mum (and is most definitely not cool.)

Yeo Valley have always made sure that even if their ad isn’t a massive cultural phenomenon it still communicates a reason to buy. Muller’s £20m campaign relies wholly on capturing our imagination and consumers “loving” the ad (and therefore by implication Muller) in the way that Cadburys managed with “Gorilla”, but if that fails, then what is my reason to buy their yoghurt?

Bad Science in Business

Last Summer I read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science and I’ve been a bit of a disciple ever since – for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure there is a great 20 minute TED talk right here that is a nice introduction to his philosophy.

He has 3 key principles for spotting “Bad Science”

1) Beware articles that quote “authorities” to make their case – a definite sign that they have no real evidence to support it
2) Beware of studies that are run without control groups – they will almost definitely see a positive result due to placebo effects
3) Beware of collections of studies that show a lopsided range of results – someone is hiding the negative results from you. Basically – Make sure you have ALL the information, not just what other interested parties want you to have.

Since then I’ve tried to use some of those principles to help me make decisions about lifestyle and health etc. What I’ve recently found though is that the same principles apply just as well to the way I do business and the opinions that I hold.

The most important principle that Goldacre higlights is “Make sure you’ve got ALL the information”. It seems obvious, but it is all too easy to just take the data that you see first and run with it and you could end up doing exactly the wrong thing if you aren’t careful

Today I found a live example of study bias in the business world and a timely reminder of how easy it is to manipulate statistics to say what you want.

Yesterday the FSA (Financial Services Authority) released their 6 monthly “league table” of complaints in the financial sector. This first came to my attention whilst reading the Independent and then I also found this article on the mail online (I really started to pay attention when those two agreed with each other!)

Both articles left the reader in no doubt that consumers were still very angry with Banks and that banking services were the worst offender in the financial sector.

I would probably have stopped there (and come to the fairly obvious conclusion that something drastic needs to happen with banking services), were it not for the fact that this story is very pertinent to a client that I am working on at the moment and so I wanted to be able to discuss it with them – obviously I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight and so I dug out the actual report from the FSA.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by what I found, but I was.

The real headline from the study is that things are actually getting a lot better – complaints about banking services have actually dropped by 22% since last year and a whopping 60% since banking’s nadir at the end of 2009. Also banking is no longer the worst offender – Insurance services now have that honour. My conclusion now would be that we must be doing something right and we should find out what and keep doing it (Effectively the opposite conclusion to the one I would have made had I taken either the Independent or the Daily Mail at face value)

The reason I’m so suprised (or maybe even impressed) is that the media didn’t just exaggerate the findings for effect, they actually made out the opposite of the findings to be true because that was the story they wanted to tell (and the story that might keep their readers nice and angry.) “Banks a bit less shit” isn’t much of a headline I guess, although it would definitely be surprising!

Anyway, maybe this is blindingly obvious to all of you, but I thought it was worth sharing. Question EVERYTHING!