Wednesday 29 October 2008

What goes around comes around

I was at an interesting presentation yesterday where the experts at the Media Agency who specialise in Social Media presented their tracking and analysis of my client's online "buzz". This was all new stuff to me and I realised that even at my ripe old age (birthday coming up soon...), there is still plenty new to learn in the business of brands and communications.

And it got me thinking, which is a good thing. About how we classify and try to measure Social Media. For good reasons, the guys at the agency restricted their analysis to a known (virtual) universe of communities, forums (fora???) and blogs. But, of course, in real life, things are different. Conversations and ideas burst effortlessly out from the blogosphere into the "traditional" Social Media of the pub, the coffee morning, the club - and slip just as effortlessly back in again, no doubt augmented by their experience in the real world.

I would find it fascinating to follow a "conversation" (or whatever you're supposed to call it these days - a conversation certainly sounds more friendly than a meme) from its original spark (a blogger, say), through the online world and see at what point it obtains critical mass to burst out into the "real world" and perhaps even get taken up by the traditional mass media. Maybe a pipe dream, but there are some researchers who are having a serious bash at an holistic approach for tracking brand, at this point, I'll give a serious plug for my friends at Mesh Planning, who are developing a great approach in this direction.

Thursday 23 October 2008

ALDI in the Limey-light

The UK media are obsessed with the credit crunch and the resulting recession. Not a day goes by without an article in the papers whereby a bright young journalist has to manage on five quid a week, or a Yummy-Mummy type has to to without shopping (except for absolute essentials) for a year. Yesterday, I even saw an article on "how to be a Recessionista" - whatever that may be.

One result of this, I am convinced, is going to be Aldi and Lidl really taking hold of the UK grocery market. For years, UK consumers have turned their noses up at the drab German discounters in favour of the twee Tescos and Waitroses with their lush advertising campaigns, over-packed fruit and vegetables and their "twenty different kinds of shopping trolley to make your life easier".

Well, the figures are beginning to speak for themselves. Last month, sales at Aldi and Lidl grew by 14%, while Tesco's growth slowed to 3.5%. And Tesco have even introduced their own "discount brands" such as Daisy washing-up liquid. A case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery?

Sunday 19 October 2008

My cup of tea

At the Frankfurt Book Fair, there was a super sampling sales promotion which really hit the spot as far as I was concerned. I discovered Yogi Tee a few months ago and it's a great product: something I tend to have in those "me being a bit esoteric and slightly intellectual and vaguely inspired" moments when I'm onto a good roll when working at home. It's a brand that's all mine and certainly doesn't have any place in shared family mealtimes or anything like that.

So it was just right that, while off my own today, doing my thing for once (husband and son would be as likely to go to the Book Fair as drink Yogi Tee), I was handed a bookmark with a sachet of Yogi Tee. Good one, Yogi Tee!

Monday 13 October 2008

An epidemic of possession

Each time I go back to the UK, I'm particularly sensitive to the latest trends in brands and communications in a way that I wouldn't be if I lived there the whole time.
On my latest visit, I noticed what an epidemic of possessive pronouns is spreading in brand communications, rather like an unstoppable rash of playground capitalism.
There was a time when the only brand names to incorporate possessive pronouns were toys for spoiled darlings, like My Little Pony, but it now seems that the whole brand world is divided into My and Your.
I can't be the only person who sometimes feels that "My Pictures" "My This" and "My That" every time I turn on the computer is just an ickle bit babyish, can I?
Now I know that there are good reasons for all this: in this virtual world, it's nice to be able to claim something as "My Space"...and I know that I have praised brands like My Muesli on this blog for their custom-made individuality. And of course I believe that brands "belong" to the people that use them and make them their own, anyway. But do we have to be reminded of this with all these twee names?
Retailers and services are particularly prone to this: Your M&S probably started it off in the UK. But, interestingly, while it's all "Your" when they are talking in general, the products suddenly become repossessed when they want to show off a bit: "OUR cashmere sweaters can be washed at freezing point so WE don't contribute to global warming". And what about all those banks that seem to forget that they are playing around with MY money?

Thursday 2 October 2008

Bog Roll

I am fascinated by brand naming and, being British, particularly intrigued by the names given to all things relating to the toilet. So, in a totally frivolous post, and in the tradition of that great British TV show "Call my Bluff", let's have a look at some of the names that German discounters dream up for their Own Label bog roll.
1. Is "Floralys"
a. A nasty disease you get from toilet seats in dodgy clubs?
b. A new colonic-irrigation procedure?
c. Lidl's Own Label Bog Roll?
2. Is "Kokett"
a. A promiscuous and foul-mouthed girl from the North of England?
b. A processed potato side-dish?
c. Aldi's Own Label Bog Roll?
You get the idea. My second prize for the best German discounter Bog Roll name has to go to Plus, who not only call their Bog Roll "Touching" but follow that one up with calling their tissues "Feeling". Both of these names make me feel distinctly queasy in this context.
And the winner is....Penny, with the best Bog Roll name of all time:"Happy End". Now, what on earth can the thought process leading to that one be?