Friday, December 18, 2009

Aviation Advertising: Benefiting from BA's Balls-Up

Although two years does not qualify as a long and illustrious marketing career, I’ve been around enough senior marketers to know that referencing your competitors in campaigns is an issue that splits hairs and divides opinion across the board.

I, for one, believe that each marketing campaign has its own set of rules, whilst many companies in certain sectors employ ‘comparative marketing’ as the de facto practice (supermarkets being the worst, and most repeat, offenders).

Although British Airways has now had its proposed Christmas strike deemed illegal in a High Court ruling, the past few days has seen a glut of aviation advertising, all of which has very cleverly referenced the farcical goings on at BA.

Here’s my favourite piece of press advertising from this week; a simple strapline from BMI. When commercial opportunity knocks, referencing the competition can be a clever and effective strategy – especially with copy this good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You've Been Hit By, Some Smooth Advertising...

The high-profile and sudden death of Michael Jackson this July was perhaps one of the year’s biggest news stories. Tributes have consistently poured in from across the globe, including some more appropriate than others.

Using an incredible simplistic yet effective piece of design, BBDO has designed this brilliant memorial piece for MTV in Germany, using a combination of ‘charity ribbons’ and the late singer’s iconic legs to pay homage to this enigmatic performer.

Such elegant and simple design is often the most effective.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

iMarketing - Apple Copywriting

Apple is a brand that exudes cool in an effortless manner. Of course, this is all a fa├žade; the branding is in fact the result of clever marketing and the best expertise in the business.

Apple is one of the few brands I allow to bombard my inbox with sales marketing, despite the fact that I can barely afford a Granny Smith, let alone a shiny new iPhone. I allow them this pleasure purely to see what their talented marketing bods are up to and with festive marketing going into overdrive, thought that I’d share this ad with you all:

I could sit here and analyse the strapline’s meaning, however it’s elegant simplicity speaks for itself. Great copy from a great brand, this is a first-class example of relating the Christmas theme to product’s unique feature. ‘Cracking’ (ho ho ho) stuff.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Facebook: The Godfather of Social Media and its Identity Crisis

LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning, blogs, mobile applications: 2009 is undeniably the year that social media hit the mainstream, fast becoming ingrained in daily life and accepted by society at large. Whilst the glut of social media options now available to us ensures that we are able to communicate and brand ourselves more thoroughly than ever before, what connotations does this hold for Facebook, the Godfather of social media?

Prior to 2009’s social networking revolution, Facebook was social media. Before ‘tweet’ became a verb; before the gardener’s dog had his own blog; before we had mobile applications that showed us where cash points were, we were quite content to post a few pictures on Facebook and scrawl messages on each other’s walls. But times have changed, and in social media, that change ain’t renowned for happening slowly.

A Twitter friend of mine, @WendyJacob, whom I have also had the pleasure of meeting in real life, has used her insightful blog to discuss the function of Facebook in today’s social media-rich world. She argues that she uses Facebook purely for social reasons, which I believe is a vital question that social marketers must address.

Around eighteen months ago (comparable eons in SM terms), Facebook was your one-stop shop for social media. Comfortable cornering the market, Facebook users used the site for everything, from personal branding to chatting with friends and playing games. As we sit upon the cusp of 2010 however, an abundance of options offer us specific channels for each purpose of our lives, social and professional – so what does this mean for Facebook?

In short, Facebook is like a middle-aged father suffering an identity crisis. Threatened by the arrival of trendy new kids on the block, the site is struggling to incorporate a variety of features in order to keep up with the leading pack and offer all users everything they could possible want. It shouldn’t.

The age-old LinkedIn vs Facebook debate still rumbles on in social marketing circles. Sure, Facebook has an undeniable larger reach – put simply, it is the largest network of people in the world – but quantity does not necessarily equate to quality.

The success of channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs about gardening and applications for gaming geeks all succeed due to one common theme – they serve a specific purpose. For the majority of Generation Y (and I include myself in this demographic), Facebook will forever connote fun, friends and frivolity rather than a professional ‘Brand Me’.

Recruiters and marketers may wax lyrical about Facebook’s reach, but as with all marketing, it’s about hitting the right people in the right channel – and Facebook should remain a playground rather than a board room.

Am I alone in this sentiment?

Breathtakingly Simple...

Following on in a similar vein from the previous post, I have stumbled across yet another example of simple copy that results in a big impact. This American advert for Wonderbra, by Saatchi and Saatchi, simply uses the brand name, inserting an extra ‘d’ to connote the effects of the product in question.

Quite simply, breathtakingly simple.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Copy Doesn't Have to be Long...

Some of the most effective marketing communications are successful due to their simplicity. This stunning new anti-smoking advert uses only three words, but the impact is undeniable. Click on the picture to enlarge it...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The New Meerkat?

It is only extremely rare and isolated incidents when I become a man of very little words – and this is one such time. Drench, a bottled water brand in the UK, has launched a stunning new campaign featuring hamsters which can only be described as an assault on Compare the Meerkat’s ‘cutesy’ throne. Enjoy…

Monday, November 23, 2009

Social Media: It Extends Beyond Twitter You Know…

There’s no denying the fact that Twitter holds staggering sway over digital marketers and society at large. Mention ‘social media’ to anyone and Twitter is likely to be an automatic response. Whilst such a successful social media channel is a fantastic advocate for Web 3.0, digital marketers working in this channel need to remember that social media extends far beyond updating tweets of 140 characters.

Facebook may well have been the first social network to genuinely permeate society; however it’s Twitter that has gone that step further and integrated itself into our everyday lives, validating its position as the ‘poster boy’ of social media. But that’s exactly the point; just because Twitter is the David Beckham of the social media world doesn’t mean that there aren’t other players on that scene.

Take LinkedIn for example. The social network for professionals now has over 50 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members, which serves as a glowing reference for the power, and importance, social media now holds over all levels of society.

Whereas Twitter has become as valid a communications platform as email, playing host to conversations, breaking news and interesting links, LinkedIn allows users to develop much deeper relationships through its array of forums, groups and networks. Twitter may be getting all the press, but social media has an array of uses and consumers are using different channels for different purposes – and this is something digital marketers should not forget.

Pretty much every brand, company and organisation is now eager to ‘do’ social media. For the uneducated, this involves leaping on the Twitter bandwagon without due consideration, which results in a pointless offering that adds no real value to your customers. Whereas Twitter can greatly enhance your digital brand offering, this is only the case when it’s managed properly.

What the majority of companies need to remember is that social media extends far beyond Twitter. Careful thought and planning needs to be behind every digital marketing strategy – social media is no different. Get your brand on social media by all means, but consider the array of options available to you – your social media strategy cannot survive on Twitter alone.

Friday, November 20, 2009

We were all Social Media sceptics a year ago…

Social media sceptics are undeniably decreasing in number - the success of SM this year has generated enough proof to convert those that remain...

A year ago (and this is certainly true for British readers of this blog) Twitter was relatively unheard of. Whilst this statement is undeniable true, the fact that the social network is now so firmly entrenched in our daily lives and routines makes it difficult to imagine a time when we were sceptical about social media.

Nevertheless, as little as twelve months ago, many members of the marketing community claimed that social media was a fad and had little relevance for business, branding and networking. How wrong they were.

As 2009, undeniably the ‘Year of Twitter’, draws to a close, the digital marketing landscape is irrevocably different. Social media now dominates the digital marketing landscape for a number of reasons. For one, social media marketers now have a year’s further experience under their belt. Secondly, the channel is an excellent remedy to marketing budgets that have been constricted by the recession. Finally – and perhaps most importantly – it works.

Brands are now more connected and close to their consumers before – or rather, consumers are now more empowered. Brand relationships have become more intimate, purely due to the role social media has played.

To list an example from personal experience, I was looking for a particular book from Waterstones. Rather than go down the traditional route of looking at FAQs on the website, trying vainly to find an appropriate contact, emailing a ‘customer services’ address and then waiting days for a human response after an automated one had informed me my query would be ‘dealt with as soon as possible’, I looked to Twitter.

I found the Waterstones Twitter page in fifteen seconds, asked them a question and had a response (the one I was looking for) within ten minutes. Great customer service and a much more personal relationship between brand and consumer.

I agree with social media sceptics on one issue – you cannot build an entire marketing strategy around social media. However, when done right, social media is an essential value-add for your business that builds intimate relationships and strengthens your offering tenfold. We’ve come a long way in a year – and the ensuing twelve months will surely turn any remaining sceptics into social media converts.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Social Media, the Elected & the Electorate...

It’s not only brands that are marketing themselves through social media – the public sector has also embraced all things social media related…

Accusing politicians of being inaccessible to the people they purport to represent is hardly an original notion. For years gone by, critics have accused elected representatives of sitting in an ivory tower and passing laws for a society they don’t really have any communication with. Well, whatever political beliefs you subscribe to, one thing is fast becoming clear – social media is granting us more access to our Government than ever before.

Of course, (the more cynical) marketers amongst us will argue that political communications through channels such as Twitter are simply an extension of political PR; managed by a press office function and devoid of any real authenticity. This may well be true in certain cases; however there’s no denying that Twitter also has a range of genuine politicians who are actively seeking to engage with voters and constituents through this blossoming channel.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, is perhaps one of the most prominent politicians to be championing social media; so much so that the Labour Party made her New Media Campaigns Spokesperson back in August. The creation of this significant role not only tasks McCarthy with encouraging MPs and government officials to use new media as a form of engagement with voters, but also demonstrates the level of importance the Government now assigns to social media as a communications tool.

Miss McCarthy is not the only politician flying the social media flag however. The list of MPs using Twitter is now too long to list individually and this can only be a good thing. Many voters remained disillusioned following the expenses scandal – an incident worsened due to its arrival in a very hard recession – so the transparency social media affords is the perfect antidote to any remaining ill feeling.

This transparency allows the public to connect with politicians like never before, especially through the real time posting of pictures, links and information. Not only can the public now feel included in current events – pictures allow them to see what’s happening and feel involved like never before. Take this (admittedly rather posed) picture of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and colleague Vince Cable (click here) – we’re involved in what they’re doing because we can see it. Instantly.

Social media does not pretend to be an answer to political problems. Just because a politician is on Twitter does not make their policies correct. However social media allows people to connect better than ever before – and goes a long way to closing the distance between the electorate and the elected.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Democratic Consumerism – The Offspring of Social Media

We live in an age of ‘democratic consumerism’ – and brands that continue operating a dictatorship are headed for a fall…

I guarantee that if you ask any traditional marketer their opinion on social media, they’ll claim it’s the preserve of young twenty-somethings who get away with gadding about on Twitter all day, all the while claiming that it’s ‘social brand research’. Incredibly, social media still has many doubters – yet a phrase coined by the management at Walmart-owned Asda looks set to dispel the myth once and for all.

Asda’s president and chief executive, Andy Bond, has been talking in this week’s Marketing magazine about ‘democratic consumerism’, which businesses are being forced to adapt to as a ‘direct result of the digital explosion and the trust vacuum’. Not only is this a wonderful phrase; it also sums up the point that continues to elude the grasp of many marketing professionals; consumers now have more of a say in brand direction than ever before.

This fundamental shift in consumer power can be largely attributed to social media and Web 2.0 – if not wholly. Consumers are now the ones conducting marketing activity – not the other way round. A direct marketing piece may sit on the doorstep and quickly find its way to the recycling bin. A social media discussion is a living, breathing, ongoing discussion about your brand – good or bad – that can gain momentum by the hour.

Companies have two options here: they can either bury their heads in the sand and continue spoon-feeding one-way communications to an audience that doesn’t care. Or, they can join the conversations happening in the social media sphere and start building a living, symbiotic brand relationship which, let’s face it, provides infinitely more value and insight than direct mail.

Democracy is the system that grants everyone their right to opinion, representation and rights – and as far as marketers are concerned, their consumer constituents are exercising their democratic rights in social media forums. Andy Bond rightly suggests that we live in an age of democratic consumerism – and brands that continue operating a dictatorship are headed for a fall.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why all the hang-ups on ROI?

It genuinely, genuinely amazes me that so many marketers remain sceptical when it comes to social media. ‘Not being able to measure ROI’ is an oft cited ‘reason’; however marketers subscribing to this misguided view are in reality, missing out on real value.

It’s certainly true that social media now uses considerable marketing resource. A few years ago, many businesses considered a company blog the very height of digital innovation, and perhaps ‘Literate Linda’ from accounts was left to update it once a week with news of the company raffle. These days (thankfully) have long gone and social media is now a sprawling mass of interactions across multiple platforms.

We now have brands interacting on Twitter (the undeniable darling of the social media world), talking with consumers in forums, social network sites, mobile applications – the list grows exponentially every week. Despite the advent of social media however, the doubters are right in one thing – we don’t yet have a way to measure commercial ROI – but why should this be the yardstick by which social media’s value is determined?

From a business perspective, one of the biggest benefits of social media is the fact that it allows brands to interact with their consumers. Web 2.0 has killed off the days of one-way marketing communications - consumers no longer accept being ‘talked to’; they want to be part of the conversation – which is where social media comes in. Focus on providing excellent customer service and brand experiences and this will be replicated in social media channels again and again and again.

Similarly, social media puts faces to faceless corporations. Building relationships on a human level benefits businesses enormously – how could it not? Discussions on networking sites (such as LinkedIn) allow companies to listen to what their consumers are talking about, what their concerns are, what their needs are. What makes them tick, how your business can help them.

No ROI? I beg to differ.

The times are changing. The times have changed. And for those waiting on the sidelines, still wondering whether to get involved, you’re missing a valuable trick. Yes, we’re still waiting for a way to quantify monetary ROI for social media. But sometimes marketing isn’t about money. Worrying about social media ROI can blinker you – and ensure that you miss out on something of real value.

Still Think Social Media's a Fad?

This video should put paid to that...

The Social Marketer Begins...

Inspired by a real passion for blogging, digital marketing, social media and sharing knowledge (as well as by my good friend and manager Mr Gareth Jones), I’ve decided to follow suit and start blogging about my professional experiences. Aside from being a copywriter and a digital marketer, I also manage a client-side social media function, which I’ve overseen since its inception.

Social media’s relevant infancy means that this is one area where my expertise is arguably as valid as anyone else’s. This may sound a bold statement considering the short length of my marketing career; however the newness of social media means I have learnt as much as anyone else in the same period of time.

Social media is a constantly evolving beast where many mistakes have been made and doubtless many more will follow. Talking of following, I hope that you choose to follow this blog, where I’ll aim to provide genuine insight, opinion and comment on the ever-changing world of social media marketing.