Thursday 28 May 2015

Anyone for Pimm's?

I've blogged about seasonality before, and it's now that wonderful strawberries and asparagus (and yes, you can eat them together) season here in Germany. And back in Blighty, it's time for a Pimm's. Pimm's have been quite smart with their marketing in the last few years, making a choice to throw all their media budget into a seaside bucket and associate the brand with the Great British Summer in all its unpredictability.

Their latest clever trick is a nifty use of digital technology in the form of posters that activate when the temperature goes above 21°C. Now, that's what I call working with audience receptivity!

Pimm's have always been pretty good at marketing, it seems. This article looks at the phenomenon of the Pimm's Party in the 1950s/1960s, when the Pimm's bottle looked like this:
21st century marketers can learn plenty from this 360° Participative Co-Created Big Brand Idea, as I guess we'd call it today. Pimm's provided invitations for the party, suggestions for Jolly Party Games, such as passing the matchbox by nose, or flipping kippers (not entirely sure about either of those after a few Pimm's), snack recipes (fancy Nut Balls, Prune Surprises or Shrimp Thrills?) and some excellent tips (providing plenty of ashtrays, locking up the kids & neighbours, keeping cats away from the drinks, that sort of thing).

Potential party-givers are also reassured that there's "no need to bother about other drinks", in a blatant steam-rollering of any competition.

But there's a warning issued from the brand. It's not something about responsible drinking or being over 18 or any of that business, though.

No, it's the warning to be prepared for "lots of fun and maybe a bit of flattery."

Bottoms up!

Thursday 21 May 2015

Shame Masks

I must admit that I don't worry too much about privacy. Maybe I should, but somehow I don't get the feeling that the NSA or anyone else is terribly interested in what I'm up to. But every now and then I see a piece of brand communication that makes me gulp.

Like this one.

What's going on here is a campaign from an initiative called Hong Kong Cleanup, whose agency Ogilvy and Mather has developed an undeniably clever campaign called The Face of Litter to deter litter louts on the streets of Hong Kong.

What they've done is to collect random litter samples and analyse them using Snapshot DNA phenotyping to create portraits of the culprits (or, presumably anyone that has touched that coffee cup including the friendly and responsible barista who handed it out).

There's not enough info to say exactly whodunnit, but enough to create a likeness on posters and online.


My first thought was this might be just the thing for publicity-seeking extroverts to get their next kick. The ultimate selfie, all over town and all over the net.

And then my thoughts ran deeper to tarring and feathering, or the shaved heads and placards round the necks of wartime collaborators, or indeed the Schandmaske of mediaeval Germany.

Back to the future? I find it all a little sinister.

Friday 15 May 2015

Reinventing the Middleman

The internet has had a profound effect on so many aspects of our daily behaviour. Shopping is the obvious one of interest to marketeers, but almost every area of daily life has been affected, from how we learn and educate ourselves to how we stay healthy and treat illness. The overwhelming trend is towards cutting out the middleman, whether it's self-diagnosis to avid a visit to the doctor, or cutting out that time- and energy-consuming trip to the physical store.

One area that has fundamentally changed is booking a holiday. The first step towards booking a hotel used to be through the high street travel agents, but for many people now, it's straight to TripAdvisor to see what other people (we assume like ourselves) have said about the hotels in our chosen resort. We have learned to go beyond the images in the glossy brochures and to seek out reality. So much so that sensible hotels are now putting TripAdvisor comments on their websites.

But there is always the counter trend. I was very interested to witness a complete reinvention of the travel agent in Black Tomato. This new-style travel agent is bringing personalisation back into holiday planning and using the internet to bring the experience to life before and after the actual holiday. The insight and basis is all about the need for individually tailored experiences and great value for time. Using the power of the internet and the possibilities that digital technology brings to the brand's advantage, rather than moaning that the internet is killing off the industry.

I wonder which other moribund services or industries can be reinvented in this way?

Monday 11 May 2015

Today's trash and tomorrow's art

Do you ever catch yourself doing it? Complaining at length about your offspring's addiction to What'sApp/Minecraft/YouTube/Instagram, yet in the same breath getting all nostalgic and misty-eyed about obscure 1970s TV shows?

Marshall McLuhan, the great communications theorist, expressed it thus: Each new technology creates an environment that is itself regarded as corrupt and degrading. Yet the new one turns its predecessor into an art form.

We can see this in the world of advertising, too. I posted here about the beauty of 1920s London Underground Posters, and our cellar bar is full of replica tin signs, mirrors, and postcards of posters from that marvellous age of advertising.

And, coming more up to date, YouTube itself is packed with compilations of TV ads from the 70s and 80s, some of which are already being hailed as works of art.

Perhaps, in the future, we'll be seeing exhibitions of branded apps turned art.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Marketing with mother

I have written from time to time here about the futility of "marketing to the over 50s". A similarly futile exercise, as I see it, is "marketing to mums." I don't know if anyone else felt vaguely uneasy about the much feted P&G campaign a few years back, around the time of the Olympics: Proud Sponsor of Mums. My uneasiness came from a number of angles - first, the obvious, what about Dads? There was also the manipulative, cheesy tonality of the films. But the uneasiness also came from knowing the agenda at P&G, a company whose main brands are household and baby care products. I even worked on Pampers for a few years and I hate to say this, but there were precious few mums around, on either the client or the agency side. More of that later.

There's a article entitled Marketing to mums is broken in Marketing magazine which touches on this issue. It's written by a woman, who is a mother herself, Nicola Kemp. But, curiously, even in this article, three of the six people who are quoted are men, and it's not clear how many of the women are mothers. Now, I know you don't have to belong to a target group in order to market to that group, but the bias in advertising agencies against mothers still seems to be extreme. Of the three women quoted, one of them said this: There aren't enough female creatives and there aren't enough creatives that are mums. If we changed this, we would do a better job.

The woman who said this is Roisin Donnelly, of P&G. So that, at least, gives me hope.