Tag: planning

A Copy however colourful is still a copy

Saw this today on Adverblog.

This video visualises the effect of Dulux’s Let’s Colour project.

I started off wanting to like this, in fact I started writing a post about how much I loved it. Dulux are tangibly making a difference to people’s lives by erasing the drab and grey from the lives of poor, run-down communities and replacing it with vibrant colour. That’s got to be a good thing right?

But as the 2 minute video progresses, I find myself feeling more and more cynical about it. Here are my 3 key reasons

1) This feels like Dulux’s attempt to do a “Cogs” , “Balls” etc and make up for the fact that Sony made an ad for TVs that was all about Paint!

2) Even if it hadn’t been done before in the advertising world, it is just copying ventures that already exist in the real world:

a) I was reminded of a civic venture by the Mayor of Tirana (Capital of Albania) where they sent an army of painters out to brighten up the morose communist era concrete grey.

b) When looking that up, I also found the Favela Painting project which was initiated by Dutch artists Haas & Hahn in collaboration with the Brazilian Government (and AkzoNobel – a commerical paint company) to engage the inhabitants in transforming the squalour of their slum. When you see the sophistication and ambition of this project, the Dulux activity in Rio starts to look a little shabby.

Frankly, I’m sick of seeing creative agencies seeing a great idea on the internet and then passing it off as an original thought. I’ll add this to the box that has the Aero bubbles skateboarder and the Berocca treadmills in it.

3) Finally, this “transformation” has been undertaken with little care for the potenial underlying beauty that could be lost under a coat of emulsion. The final segment of the video shows the effect of the project on Jodhpur, India. Jodhpur is hardly a city that could be called drab. It might be poor, but there is such variety and colour already naturally there that it seems an awful shame to paint over it in vast swathes of purple and so to lose the wonderful details and turn it into a bit of a Disneyfied India.

It’s a shame, because I guess hearts were in the right place for a lot of people on this, but it feels a little too self serving and not original enough to convince me that Dulux actually care.

Saying all that, it will probably work because not everyone is as cynical as me. Most consumers don’t know about Albania or the Favelas and they will just see the transformative power of Colour. They probably will say “Isn’t that a bit like the Sony Rabbits/Balls/Paint ad” though


Brainwriting – when a brainstorm is just too slow

Having worked on 20th Century Fox for the past 2 years I’ve run a huge amount of brainstorms. Last week I was set the challenge of running a 5 hour brainstorm in which I had to generate ideas for 5 different films (with 12 sub challenges). I just wanted to share some of the learnings from the session.

With 12 challenges in 5 hours, I had less than 25 mins for each question which was always going to be tough, so rather than run a standard “Stand at the front and write stuff down” session, I decided to use a brainwriting technique that I had adapted from one I read about online (see herefor details of the basic technique).

My Adaptation of the technique is focused on getting people to improve a build upon ideas in order to deliver workable detailed solutions rather than wooly fantasies. It is described in detail at the bottom for those who are interested – it is really quite simple – a bit like those games you played as a kid where a group of people had to write a story but you had to take it in turns to write a line.

I found that this approach was incredibly effective for the first half of the session. When it was working properly, we had 15 different people all creating or improving upon ideas all at the same time. Compared to a standard brainstorm when only one person can talk at any one time and only one person is writing, this was an incredibly efficient use of people’s time.

This technique also avoided any negative influences such as the dominant personalities that love the sound of their own voices or the recessive personalities who might have great ideas but don’t like to voice them. It also means that people don’t judge the ideas on issues of practicality, instead they are encourage to make the idea workable.

A Note of warning however, this technique worked really well when the group had compelling stimulus and some clear hooks on which to generate their ideas. For the later part of the session, we were all a bit stumped for ideas to solve the problem and so getting 15 people to work in isolation really didn’t help as people needed much more hand-holding. So make sure that you are comfortable that it is a rich source of ideas.

A Second watch out – Don’t try to answer 12 questions in 5 hours! We probably answered 6 effectively, 3 half heartedly and 3 not at all. A Shorter brainstorm with fewer challenges would have been a much more efficient use of people’s time.

The Technique

1) THE TASK Set out the key problem as defined with the client
2) EXPLODE THE TASK: Take one attribute of the problem and as a group “explode” it. So if the problem is “How do we make this feel like a premium experience” then to “explode” it you should ask a question like “How do other categories create premiumization within their portfolios” or ” what is it about the current experience that feels less than premium”. Basically you need to get the group to start to think laterally about the idea.

3) A FIRST APPROACH: Keeping the results of stage (2) on the wall/flipchart then you can start the Brainwriting stage. Hand out a piece of paper to each person. Then give them 1-2 minutes MAX to write down just ONE good idea to address the TASK.

4) The ANGLE: Once stage 3) is finished get them to pass the idea to the person to the right of them and allow them to read the idea they have received. Then go back to the results of stage (2) and pull out an example of a brand or a category that excels in solving the problem that you have. Spend a few minutes discussing how that brand/category works and then ask the question “How would X improve the idea that you have in front of you”. Then give the group another 2 minutes MAX to improve and build upon the idea that they now have in front of them. It is important that they do not try to create new ideas at this stage, but focus on making the idea in front of them better, whilst focusing on the angle that you have selected.

Repeat stage (4) upto 2 or 3 times each time passing the idea along and introducing a new angle.

5) Go round the table getting people to summarise the idea and developments. You will find that you have a surprisingly high number of well worked through and imaginative ideas. This is also the opportunity for the group to build on the ideas that they hear.

Finally – ensure you have some kind of filtering process in place to whittle down the ideas to the best ones. I’ll talk about this again in the future, but it is vital

Resonance is the new relevance

Just a really quick one. Two buzz words have dominated media planning in the past few years. About 5-6 years ago it was all about relevance – making sure that a message is relevant to the mindset and interests of an audience whilst they are consuming a particular medium. Then over the past two or three years people have been talking about engagement a lot, so not only do we want people to find something relevant, but we want them to actively consume our message rather than just passively absorb it.

Today I read an article in new media age about Twitter’s Promoted Tweets model and the news that if a brands messages are not forwarded on enough by consumers then the brands will be dropped, but without charge. It’s a really interesting payment model and launches a whole new trading option on the media world – PPR = Pay Per Resonance (You heard it here first) – the idea that brands pay for the viral effect of a campaign.

I can’t imagine that traditional creative agencies would want to be remunerated on such a basis any time soon, but it could be a revolutionary formula for some of the challenger digital agencies who really want to stand out.

A New TV World

I recently saw a presentation by a major multi-channel TV broadcaster on  how new technologies are affecting TV viewing habits in the typical digitally enabled family.

Whilst the content of this presentation was useful I did not feel that it really got to the heart of the changes that are happening at the moment and will continue to happen at an increasing rate.

The main point that the presenter wanted us to take out was that “Live broadcast TV is not dead and in fact continues to form the foundation of all AV viewing”

The two main pieces of evidence for this were:

1) Anecdotally, many consumers don’t want the hassle that comes with computers to accompany their TV viewing. If you can’t just switch it on and go, then they won’t bother.

2) According to BARB more than 80% of viewing is still done “live” and only around 20% is timeshifted

Now I have issues with the conclusions derived from this evidence. The first point just means that the technology hasn’t quite got to the stage that consumers are comfortable with it, but that is just a matter of time. The second point just seems to avoid the issue.

I’m not going to sit here and ring the death knell for Broadcast TV. Too many other people are doing it and I think they’re wrong too. Since the earliest forms of media, it is incredibly rare for one form of media to be killed by another. New “formats” may have made old formats obsolete – DVDs have killed VHS, paper killed parchment, but that’s just storage really. The media form is the content itself and paintings weren’t killed by photos any more than the TV “killed” Cinema or internet will “kill” TV.

But the claim – “80% of viewing is still live in PVR households” – rang completely false with me.

Having had Sky + for nearly 2 years now, I could no longer imagine being imprisoned by a broadcast TV schedule and being compelled to watch 3 minutes of TV advertising for every 15 minutes of content. My estimations of my own TV viewing were that I watched approximately 80% timeshifted and 20% live.

In mini survey across the office I found that on average people with PVRs claimed to watch in the ratio of 60:40 for recorded:live broadcast content respectively.

This is clearly at odds with the official data and my survey of a few dozen people clearly is no match for the mighty BARB, but this backs up every conversation I’ve had with anyone who has a PVR.

When I asked what kind of programmes they watched when live, it became a bit more clear why the claimed behaviour is perhaps different from actual recorded behaviour.

4 Types of TV

4 distinct types of programme came out of the survey – 2 that are typically viewed as recorded and 2 that are viewed “live”

The two types of recorded content were

1)Long running “appointment to view” series, often high quality US drama/comedy imports – e.g. Lost, Desperate Housewives, The Wire, and also Soaps. – “I don’t want to miss my favourite show”

2) Films/long form one-off documentaries etc – ” I want to start watching when it is convenient for me, not on the exact hour”

The two types of “live” content were

3) Live “event” type programming – News/Sport/Reality TV finales etc – Basically anything where it would be old hat by the following day, so needed to be watched as it happened

4) Background/Filler/browsing TV – magazine style shows -the latest re-run of Top Gear on Dave, Saturday morning Cookery shows etc – stuff where it really doesn’t matter if you miss 5 minutes here or there and it doesn’t suck you in so you’re happy to switch off part way through

My personal theory is that people don’t accurately claim point 4) in their total claimed viewing.  If they forget about this then they only actively remember about 2/3rds of their viewing which explains the under-claim against live TV

Of the 4 different types of programming, I would suggest that in a PVR household only number (3) actually has advertising that regularly gets watched live by an attentive audience. For 1 & 2 consumers are likely to fast-forward over ads and in point 4, they are just getting on with other things and just passively consuming the TV in background.

Whether or not the ratios of recorded to live are being accurately picked up, this analysis poses some interesting questions about how advertisers buy and how broadcasters sell their schedules in the future.

a) In a PVR household what is the relative value of Sponsorship idents to spot advertising in a show such as Lost? In a future world where PVRs are the standard (not that far away) Is there any value to the middle of 6 30″ spots in an ad break that is being fastfowarded?

b) Should we use the same copy in a break in the X-factor as we do for a break in Top Gear re-runs – One is likely to be consumed actively where one is much more passive – more like radio…

My suggestion is that broadcast TV is not dead, but it is to maintain anything like it’s current share of ad revenue it needs to significantly re-think it’s sales model and ad-agencies need to re-think how their ads engage their audience

For new high-quality serial and one-off content (1) and (2) (Movies and dramas etc) the sponsorship credit should be the highest value item in the schedule. If spot advertising is allowed at all, it should be one advert only to a maximum of 40″ which broadcasters then charge a premium for. If we make the ad-break so short that it is more hassle to fastfoward over it than to watch it then we’ll actually get significantly more high quality ad views.

For “event” TV (3), we could probably use the existing style of ad break model, and utilise our strongest and most entertaining creative to keep consumers engaged throughout the break. It might even be necessary to insist upon limited frequency per execution and a minimum “enjoyment” standard to preserve the value of the break

For “background” TV (4), we might have to re-visit the creative style of the advertising and take some learnings from radio about how messages can be absorbed more passively.

This may mean that some campaigns need at least 3 different pieces of copy plus sponsorship idents in order to cut through, or alternatively advertisers can choose to focus in different areas depending on their strategic communications objectives.

It also means that the supply of broadcast minutage is seriously depleted, but each minute massively increases in true value.

This is obviously an idealised model and is based upon a scenario where PVRs are in a significant majority of homes, but whatever a new model looks like, it’s starting to become very clear that we just can’t buy and sell TV in the way we’ve always used to. In an uncertain world the one thing that is certain is that staying the same is a route to obscurity.

Finally a foray into blogging!!

Hello all, and by all, I mean the two or three friends that I have forcibly pushed in this direction to read this. Thankyou so much for stopping by.

This particular posting is going to be pretty short; I’d like to say sweet as well, but feel that may be a little presumptious of me. Anyway, all I’m going to do here today is explain my reasons for doing this blog in the first place.

My main reason is that I don’t feel that I can comment on the exploding media world(in which I work as a media planner,) unless in some way at least I am part of it, and right now I feel actually quite detached (as a consumer) from the way media is going.

Having once felt like I was close to the leading edge of the digital “revolution” (we got internet at home in 1995 which was pretty early) I feel like things really have overtaken me and although I’m a big fan of the internet, I’m actually very stuck in my online habits.

Yesterday my colleague sitting opposite was involved in a Q&A session with people working for him. This Q&A session was held on Second Life!! I realised at this point that whilst obviously I knew all about Second Life, I had no first hand experience of it whatsoever – How could I comment on these trends if I wasn’t experiencing them.

It’s not just Second Life. I don’t have a profile on MySpace, Bebo, Facebook or any of those community sites which appear to have replaced smoking in terms of both addictiveness and the ability to expand your social network. The furthest I got on digital networking was Friends Reunited.

Anyway, this blog is my first step in rectifying this situation. I’ve been in countless meetings quoting the “POWER OF THE BLOG” and yet have barely ever read any blogs and have never written one.

So here is my blog. It is going to be an account of me endeavouring to drag myself into the 21st century of media and the weird and wonderful things I encounter on the way. It will probably be of interest only to my nearest and dearest, and to them only because they want to keep me happy, but as much as anything it is an exercise in discovery – if nothing else it might give me a chuckle when I look back at it in a few years.

I hope to write something here about once a week, probably on Monday when I’m procrastinating on my work, so if you haven’t gouged out your own eyeballs yet and are of a particularly masochistic tendency then please do come back for updates.

Bye for now