Archive for October, 2012

Always be closing

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Nobody wants to work in the high pressure sales environment featured in David Mamet’s movie, but it is really clear from our Mobile conference this week that Baldwin’s mantra in Glenglarry Glen Ross  is good advice for every advertiser.

Mobile (by which I mean smartphones and tablets) changes everything.  As Nick Cohen, our head of MBA, announced it is “the most innovative space that we’ve ever had – it is truly revolutionary”.

Why is it so different?

Partly as Nick went on to explain, because it’s the most personal medium we have.  Not only does it fit in your pocket and handbag, (so can a newspaper, or magazine I hear you mutter) but it contains your personal photos, memories and contacts.  Phones are big as top objects you would save from a burning building.

The other extraordinary characteristic of mobile is what it turns every other medium into.  It makes everything a point of sale.

And this device makes buying stuff with your mobile even easier.  It is sweeping the US and is one development our own innovative and revolutionary head of mobile Stefan Bardega says is essential to get to grips with right now.

Forget the classic customer journey from disinterest through awareness and warmth to purchase and advocacy.  Imagine instead a purchase corridor with a myriad of doors leading from it.  At any point the customer may choose to go through the door to purchase.  We must ensure that every one of those doors is unlocked and well signposted, and that the customer can buy when and how they want to.

Forget brand engagement as your campaign objective. Don’t run a big brand warmth campaign without a path to purchase.  Ensure the data measurement is in place to measure everything.  Make sure you can seal the deal.  Always be closing.


The key planning theme for 2013

Monday, October 15th, 2012


Carlos Grande, the very impressive editor of Warc , has invited me to summarise my view of key planning trends for 2013.

I am of the view that there is only one way to do this, which is to consider the key trends affecting the UK consumer in 2013.  These, and these alone, are the ones that really matter.  The technical advances within our own market place and the vagaries of advertising politics are mere bagatelles in comparison.

In the real world, the world outside comfortable agency offices, there is one trend that is sweeping the nation.  One trend that is causing the foundations (and possibly the founders) of more than one institution to tremble. One trend that is unmissable. It is a flood of truth telling.

From the aftermath of the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Enquiry, to the revelations from the victims of Jimmy Saville, cover ups are crumbling.

The nation is hearing the sound of truth and it likes what it hears.  Why did Julia Gillard’s speech go viral earlier this month.  It is because in her rhetoric we hear a woman speaking from the gut, and from the heart.

So the Truth Agenda has arrived.  Why here and why now ?

Because social media has reached a tipping point of power and influence in the nation, that you ignore at your peril if you have anything, anything at all, to hide.

Not since the printing press allowed the English bible to be circulated to every church in the land with the consequence that Catholic priests as translators of the gospel began to lose their usp, or since the number of women emancipated through work in the first world war made electoral emancipation inevitable, has such a change affected the land.

The people cannot be silenced.  Their views and opinions are no longer curated and diminished by editorial.  The truth will out.

The consequences are clear for brands and advertising.  Brands must deliver on their promises whether it is to care about customer service or to do no evil.  Customer reviews are more crucial than ever, and with the advancing Google Glasses technology they will be visible on the high street not just on a smart phone.  The waste of money invested in advertising that paints a picture that the consumer knows to be fake will become more and more obvious.  And all of this will give planners a much faster understanding of what is working and what is not, and what to do about it.

In addition the workplace itself will evolve.  It will have to.  Where results are so transparent, then sycophancy and political decisions will become more transparent too.  We will need to find a way to work through disagreements over strategy and execution instead of, as now happens, sweeping them under the carpet.  Every planning agenda should lead with a question “How do we get closer to the truth in 2013, and how will this change what we do and how we do it?”



The limits on reality are no longer a constraint

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012


Convergence is one of those terms that has been talked about for many years.   I don’t believe it has hit us in any meaningful way yet.  But it is about to.

One convergence people used to talk about was how everything would change when you could run video ads on the internet (on a pc).    The world didn’t change so much.

Then convergence was used to refer to the fact that you could get the internet on your TV.  At the moment most people who can, either don’t or don’t know that they can.

I have blogged elsewhere about the opposite trend of Divergence (I have more internet connected devices now than ever before and I am not alone) which allows every piece of advertising to become a point of sale, and which should and must impact on trading models.

Back in the Real World convergence is taking another turn.  For some time now users of Smart phones have been able to add “virtual reality” elements to content.    It can be magical.

It is about to get more magical once “augmented reality” glasses hit the mainstream with products this year from Google and other developers.

This will allow the seamless integration of the physical and digital world.  It gives huge creative and commercial scope to advertising strategies.   Given that we are in the era of people power, it also gives huge scope to virtual graffiti and critics.  Imagine that you were walking down a high street and without reference to your smart phone you could easily see everyone’s comments and ratings about every shop and café, every brand on every poster, and for those inclined, even virtual graffiti with no laws broken.

As it is the internet has changed purchasing habits radically.  Would you book a holiday/buy a book/download a movie without checking out the reviews?  With Real World Convergence people power hits a new level.  The need to have an authentic brand, inside and out, grows stronger daily.

Banksy says “ Speak softly but carry a big can of paint”.  Soon no paint will be necessary.


The Millennials are coming. Does this change everything ?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Last week at the “Be the Brand” conference, the conference debate was about whether “Brands can be trusted to take a larger role in Society?” I was speaking about my book with other speakers including host Tim Bleszynski from The Alternative, Nick Howard from Edelman, and Bob Thust from Deloitte.

The conference organisers believe that a brand must create a “tribal”  movement amongst its followers.  Bleszynski advocates a new consumer led democracy which makes earning trust an imperative asset for a brand.  We heard from Edelman that the top metric for trust is companies that listen to customer feedback and treat their employees well (and not like this).  I’ve mentioned before in my blog that the Edelman Trust survey shows that the opinions of “someone like me” and “regular employees” have more credibility than CEOs or analysts to the respondents.

Thust, director of corporate responsibility at Deloitte, also talked about employees, but perhaps, it being Deloitte, not “regular” ones.  He recounted his recent survey amongst Millennials, the emerging generation of business leaders at Deloitte, which suggested that a drive for profits wasn’t enough to motivate them.  The survey said that the purpose of business for them was societal benefit – or “changing the world”.  This reflected Bleszysnski’s introduction to the morning which talked of Capitalism 2.0 – a drive not just for shareholder value but for value for the community overall.

The millennials – or Generation Y as they used to be called – were born from the 1980s onwards and are largely the children of the baby boomers.  This in itself is arguably problematic as if there was ever a generation that won’t give up power and status and get old it is the boomers. The millennials are however set to inherit the earth, to run businesses, to drive media habits and tastes, and to lead governments.  There is some argument about what they are thinking.  Thust argues that they’re a more thoughtful and considered lot than the margin driven, profit chasing business leaders of the earlier generation.  His millennials will sacrifice money for inclusivity and sustainability.  Newsweek however painted a very different picture in a feature earlier this summer arguing that “Boomer America never had it so good.  As a result today’s young Americans have never had it so bad”.  Less a compassionate generation than a generation who are “without hope”.

The millennials are coming to a position of power near you.  Will they promote enlightened capitalism or a spirit of desperation with no dreams of improvement ?  Quite different prospects, with very different implications for brands, advertising propositions, pricing structures and media.  I think I know what we’d all hope for, but optimism isn’t always the strongest basis for business growth.