Tag: real time

Being topical or even shareable is not the same as being relevant

(DISCLAIMER: It has been brought to my attention that the rant below sounds like I hate social media or digital media. That’s definitely not true, but I do hate bad advertising and poorly thought out communications strategies driven by buzz words which the examples below represent. Also this behaviour is not limited to digital media – “topical” ads in newspapers and posters are often equally irrelevant to the brands being advertised, but they are less hyped and celebrated by the industry)

 

I’ve been watching with dismay over the past couple of years as brand after brand decides that they “need” a social media strategy because it is the latest thing, without any real understanding of what it should achieve for their brand. They hire a specialist social media agency (rather than an integrated media agency that can give them a less biased view), they buy a bunch of twitter followers (mostly robots or people in click farms in Bangladesh) and then churn out an hourly stream of inane twittering usually involving pictures or short videos of cute animals doing cute stuff.

It doesn’t matter  which category they are in, or what audience their product is for, brands keep following the same trite route to irrelevance. By no means the worst offender, but typical of the behaviour I am talking about is National Express
national express

Their utter irrelevance is so absolute that the “Condescending Corporate Brand Page” has created an album called “National Express Animal Sanctuary – Because public transport has EVERYTHING to do with animals and days of the week”

national express2

This is particularly lazy irrelevance, but I guess if you are going to spout worthless communications into the ether, you don’t want to expend too much effort on it.

Some brands put a bit more work in, but rarely make their brand or product even vaguely relevant to the topic at hand.

Some brands try to at least comment on things that are topical, but rarely do they say anything interesting
pizza express fail

sony pancake

Even when brands try to add something to the topic that hasn’t been said a million times by everybody else, they still spectacularly fail to make their product or brand relevant to the conversation

gareth baleinnocent clocks

I’ve been trying to work out why previously competent and sensible marketeers on otherwise well marketed brands and products, should fail so horribly when it comes to their social media communications. And the conclusion that I’ve come to is that the people responsible for social media campaigns are not targeted against anything that looks like an actual business or brand objective. They have launched into a specific channel led idea without having a clue what it is they are trying to achieve. In doing this they then set KPIs which simply measure one social media campaign against another without any understanding of how that will improve their business.

When social media specialists discuss what this type of activity could possibly be achieving, they tend to mention one objective: top of mind awareness. They think that to stay top of mind they just need to be constantly producing content so that they are visible to their consumers all the time.

What they fail to realise is that “top of mind awareness” is a short hand for “first mention when asked “can you name a soft drink/travel company/mobile phone”” or whatever the category might be. It is a proxy measure for how likely people are to think of your brand WHEN THEY ARE ACTIVELY IN THE MARKET FOR YOUR BRAND, not just randomly across the course of the day. If your brand is visible to consumers across the whole day, but is never connected to a product or brand benefit in people’s minds then it will never get to be top of mind when it actually matters. In fact it’s lack of relevance will mean that when you do have something relevant to say, consumers ignore you because they know not to expect anything of substance from you.

Essentially, what this comes down to is that being relevant is not about what you say or even when you say it, but is about what you ARE and what you DO.

This does not mean however that real time social media marketing cannot work, in fact I believe it can be a very powerful tool when used appropriately within the context of a strategically integrated campaign. What makes those campaigns stand out however is that they never lose sight of the purpose and role of the brand and product in consumer’s lives.

I have found one brand that seems to be doing a relatively decent job of this. (I’m sure there are more, but I do have a life you know!) And NO, it isn’t Oreos (although this years decision to completely retire from the Superbowl social media “Brandter” (My new most hated word) was inspired)

I first came across this brand’s real time efforts with this beautifully constructed ad that was attached to the back of a bike at Wimbledon the day after the longest ever tennis match.
Kit Kat Wimbledon

The simplicity and elegance of this solution is possible because everyone can instantly see why Kit Kat is relevant to this story. They have no connection to tennis or wimbledon, or really sport at all, but they have single mindedly stood for the benefit of taking a break for as long as I can remember and so this communication needs no explanation at all. In terms of top of mind awareness, this one could actually work the next time I’m in the mood for a chocolately snack break.

And KitKat, for the most part, have managed to stick to this in all of their social and real time communications. At the very least their brand and product is featured heavily in any of their facebook and twitter posts and where possible they choose their topics based on the relevance of the “Have a break” line. They aren’t perfect, but they are definitely giving it good go.

Kit Kat superbowl

I also really liked this effort from Jaffa Cakes, who made a strong play for relevance by leveraging their originality and authenticity credentials when a new pound coin was announced by the Royal mint

Jaffa

 

So that’s it basically. If you have a bunch of twitter followers and your social media manager thinks he has something funny to say about Easter; unless you are selling chocolate or are a church, you are NOT relevant. Tie him up or break his fingers but don’t let him post anything next week!!

UPDATE – I’ve been on holiday throughout England’s dismal World Cup campaign, but have arrived back in time for Wimbledon – The perfect opportunity for yet more brands to celebrate their irrelevance – the first example is below from PG Tips

 

PGTips Wimbledon

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Revisiting an old theme – media sustainability

A couple of years ago I wrote a bit of a manifesto on why we as advertising professionals should be looking to enhance the media we use to communicate our brands offerings rather than just exploiting the eyeballs we find there – I think it is still relevant and so wanted to share it again in slightly cut down form


This image formed the spark for the philosophy and manifesto that I’m about to deliver so here goes:

Here’s what I believe:

1) Human attention is a valuable natural resource, allowing us to learn about the world around us, adapt our behaviour for optimal utility of that world and to evolve our attitudes for maximum enjoyment of the world

2) Human attention is NOT an infinite resource, there is only so much new information we can take in at any time and only so many things that we can be persuaded to care about

3) All marketing and communications require that we capture that human attention

4) Human attention naturally concentrates and clusters around certain content and media because of the value it contributes to their lives, NOT because of the amount of advertising they find there

5) Just like any natural resource, over-exploitation of the human attention to media will inevitably lead to the dilution and eventual destruction of that attention and make it impossible for us to harness it any way, positive or negative.

(Yeah I love that pic!)

6) It should therefore be the responsibility of advertisers to not just exploit a medium for the audience that it attracts, but to invest in that medium with sustainable communications to ensure that it continues to deliver value to consumers and in turn provide a continuing resource for brands to communicate to those audiences.

Some advertisers might claim that they already do this – by paying to advertise in a medium they say they are investing in the quality of content that medium can provide. And maybe that used to be true. Maybe some consumers do watch advertising in the knowledge that they are entering into a contract with the media channel to “pay” for the content they choose to watch by also watching content that they would rather not. However I think we are deluding ourselves if we think this is true of most advertising messages.

As advertisers we “buy” an audience that media owners “sell” to us. Because of that we think we have a right to put pretty much anything we can get away with in front of that audience and we approach every consumer contact with the question “what can my brand get out of this?”.

A perfect example of this is the recent news story that Ford had “secured” a corporate page on Google+. What I found remarkable about this was that a) Ford had ignored Google’s request for advertisers to back off until they had worked out how to showcase corporate accounts and b) No-one seems to have a clue what Ford are doing there and what they hope to get out of it. All that they seem interested in is the fact that there are 10 million+ people already signed up and that it is currently unexploited so they get to be first. No-one knows how people are using Google+, what it is all about and what they can get out of it, but Ford are happy to steam in and plant their corporate size 9 footprints over everything.

This shouldn’t be surprising. As soon as an emerging technology develops into something that looks a bit like a “medium” then every client I have wants to know “How should I be using it?” There is an assumption that if there is an audience then we should be exploiting it. The same happened with Twitter and I can’t even think about doing a campaign without being asked “what will my facebook page look like”.

I also look at the dead and dying media brands that have failed to keep up with the ever increasing demands of advertisers and investors and so have been abandoned by the wayside. Internet brands such as Myspace that has effectively been ditched – at a loss of half a billion dollars – because no-one could work out how to make it work for advertisers.

I start to feel an element of responsibility for this. If every new medium is disected and assessed solely based on it’s ability to generate advertising income then potentially viable media products and businesses that could have had another business model are simply allowed to fade away.

Now maybe this isn’t a problem whilst there is a steady flow of sacrificial lambs for us to exploit, plunder and destroy, and maybe it is fine when consumers don’t have a choice whether or not we target them, but I believe the days of being able to exploit media with impunity are numbered. Consumers have more and more tools that enable them to choose whether to engage with advertisers or not and the longer we abuse their good will and force interruption to their media consumption with unwelcome messages, the quicker they will learn how to switch us off. Indeed there is legislation coming which will force consumers to make that choice (see anti-cookie European legislation)

So here’s where I start my campaign for sustainable communication (I got here eventually!).

I believe that the most successful advertisers in the next 20 years will be those that understand that we have a duty to respect the contract between advertisers and consumers and deliver true value in our communications.

We need to ensure that we are investing in successful media, not just by buying media space, but by delivering content and messages that in and of themselves increase the value that consumers take out of that media space. Rather than saying “what’s the next big thing” all the time, we should be saying “how do we make the current big thing work better for consumers” so that we don’t have to start all over again when we have bullied them out of the media that they used to love.

For my part, whenever I am asked to consider a new media opportunity, I am going to endeavour to start with the question “How can I make that media better for the consumers who are consuming it” rather than “How can I make a quick buck here”. And let me be clear – another generic TV ad with animated animals or a beautiful woman selling perfume does not make my experience of that medium better. Most ads that your average advertiser likes are frankly wallpaper for your average consumer.

Over the next few weeks and months I will be adding examples of campaigns that are either examples of great sustainable communications or worrying examples of media exploitation.

Please feel free to send me any good examples of either.

As a starter for 10, please check out the mediaweek award shortlisted Panasonic Advertiser funded programme “How to take stunning pictures”. This was a piece of TV content on channel 5 that out-performed it’s alloted programming slot and was hugely popular with consumers and client alike. In addition Panasonic were able to clearly convey their commitment to helping the average photography enthusiasts get the most out of amateur photography. And it sold Panasonic Lumix cameras – lots of them.