Monthly Archives: November 2015

Guerilla and Experiential Concepts: Its all just a Fad!

In recent years many articles are popping up praising concepts like piggybacking, experiential, viral, buzz marketing etc.
Are these concepts THE solution to get your brand and message across to your target audience no matter what?

Buzz Marketing being “A big Fad!”
In the blog of Joseph Putnam “How to Apply Buzz Marketing Principles for Effective Internet Marketing” the success of Buzz marketing seems to be guaranteed.
“The difference is that the goal of buzz marketing is to get people talking about your brand – not just to make people aware that your brand exists.(…) Most people think it’s something that happens randomly, but in the book Buzzmarketing, author Mark Hughes talks about how buzz can be generated by following a few basic principles. Businesses that follow these principles are much more successful at getting people and news outlets talking about their brand than businesses that only use traditional marketing tactics.”

“A big fad” called Piggybagging
As well as in the blog of Laura Davies “Can piggybagging on viral activity help with your marketing strategy?” the author talks about using Piggybagging as a successful concept to reach the right audience “One thing is clear, the impact of viral campaigns can be huge, but in a few months, weeks or even days they can be easily be forgotten. For brands, “piggybacking” on these trends and campaigns quickly is highly beneficial (…)”

Experiential Marketing “The next pig fad!”
Shareen Pathak who is the author of the blog post “Just What Is Experiential Marketing, and How Can It Be Measured?” mentioned that “Jeff Benjamin, chief creative officer at JWT North America, said experiential is what brands do in the world that get people “participating.” He called it an evolution of what interactive advertising was a few years ago — anything that pulls people into the brand, digitally or physically. “It just has the gas pedal on it now because of social media and technology.”

If one follows up all three blog posts mentioned before and carefully reads them, the question stated at the beginning becomes obsolete. Plus questions like: Are these “new” concepts the Holy Grail of marketing? Can these vessels transport any type of message to any person on the planet? Do they only have to be new and exciting to be appealing? where the answers is no becomes obsolete as well.
This is all due to the progression of marketing itself. As I was putting this blog post together I researched the web for FAD look alike blog posts based on marketing concepts. So far I could not find one single article praising one concepts or idea as the single perfect solution.
It seems that marketing and its experts grew up to the extend where marketing is not a side function of sales anymore but rather a mature, smart and educated industry.
Every article or blog found, mentioned that in the end it’s much more important to identify key trends within the target audience, use the right tone of voice across channels in a coherent way and stay true to what research and data can provide us with.
That said, concepts like piggybacking, experiential, viral, buzz marketing etc. have proven itself to be successful approaches and concepts but only within an appropriate context and with a meaningful and coherent message.
Following marketing 101 rules, these concepts can stay valid overtime but only if the implementation and execution is spot on and inline with a proper strategy.

For instance, Pepsi just proved that experiential marketing can work over time with the same idea as long as it is coherent, hence following the same or an adapted strategy and has meaning to its audience:

Year 2013:

Youtube Facts – Views: 45,216,778, Likes: 155,103

Year 2014:

Youtube Facts – Views: 19,785,451, Likes: 63,740

Although the second #TestDrive was less successful ADWEEK put it on their Ad of the Day page showing that this idea once implemented correctly can produce repeated results:

One final word: Thanks marketing for growing up as a sector and especially understanding that ideas and concepts are only one part of you. Plus thanks concepts and technology for making marketing way more creative and diverse than ever before. There are no fads within concepts or ideas but there are people using the marketing tools wrong or in the wrong context – Nevertheless these people seem to become obsolete in a growing and more mature marketing world.

Written and edited by Benjamin Glahe


Defying The Norms

Ah Mid-November, that time of year where everyone turns to the person next to them and exclaims, “Wasn’t it February 5 minutes ago?” while simultaneously our senses are attacked with all things festive.

Around this time has also turned into what now can almost be considered a tradition in the UK, where all the major high street retailers roll out their TV commercials that we will continually see over the next month or so. 2014 saw heavy hitters like Sky with their Step Into Christmas advert (a theme they have continued through with their 2015 advert) and Marks and Spencer with their ‘Magic and Sparkle’ ad.

All this furore about Christmas advertisements was arguably made more important than it ever was by John Lewis in 2011 when they first released their annual tear jerker with ‘The Long Wait’. Since then the release of the John Lewis advert has become an event with the retailer recognising that it gets the whole nation talking.

When the 2011 advert was released 61% of people in the UK said they has spoken about the advert with their friends, a full 36% more than the average UK retail norm. This popularity was also echoed on social media, after John Lewis released the commercial via Facebook the number of Tweets about the store rocketed from below 2000 to almost 16,000 in the space of two days.

With these adverts John Lewis completely transformed their brand image to make themselves more emotionally relevant. Everything from brand perception to customer visits per year to sales, were all dramatically improved thanks to the new direction they had taken.

And so 2015 swings around along with John Lewis’ next instalment ‘Man On the Moon’, a moving story about a young girl who discovers the man living alone on the moon and her quest to get a present to him for Christmas. 2014’s Monty the Penguin was an incredible success but the Man On the Moon has smashed John Lewis’ own records with 23,000 mentions on social media in the first two hours of its release and at the time of writing of this article has amassed over 12 million views in less than a week.

On first viewing ‘The Man On the Moon’ continues John Lewis trend for creating emotional commercials that resonate strongly with viewers, but once you dig a little deeper you start to see that John Lewis have changed direction slightly. Perhaps in an attempt to make themselves a much more valuable brand.

For a brand to be defined as “valuable” it means that they offer something back to society, much like certain brands in America such as Microsoft do with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations. Although not quite on the scale of Microsoft, with the Man On the Moon advert John Lewis have tried to break the stereotype of what a Christmas advertisement is and collaborated with a charity, in Age UK, to raise awareness of older people that will be spending Christmas on their own this year.

It’s an extremely bold move by John Lewis, the nature of the world we live in today with the immediacy of social media is that people can express their opinions in a swift and critical manner. Barely a few days after the release of the advert there were already parody videos and articles criticising the advert.

Writing for The Independent, Dr Patrick Lonergan (Lecturer of Consumer Culture at Nottingham Trent University) stated;

“So for me, this ad typifies what we do as consumers. To ease our sense of vulnerability, frailty and lack when confronted with images of perfection, we peer through a lens that distorts reality and allows us to momentarily escape the sometimes bleak, cold, lonely aspects of daily life.”

It was cold, unblinking look at the commercial by Dr Lonergan and while to some degree he’s right, at the end of the day it is an advertisement meant to encourage and develop the customers’ perception of John Lewis with the ultimate goal of getting said customers through the doors but I still feel he may slightly miss the point John Lewis are trying to make it.

Criticism, such as Dr Longergan’s, is perhaps part of the reason the charity involved are not mentioned in the advertisement. Speaking to a representative of Age UK he expressed that despite there being no direct mention of Age UK in the commercial it has not done the brand any harm, if Age UK’s name had been attached some people may have spoken out about the brand in a negative way, much like people have with John Lewis.

Utilising their commercial to promote awareness of isolated people is not the only way that John Lewis are breaking the stereotype of what Christmas adverts are, for the first since John Lewis started this trend their titular character is a girl. Not only that, but if you pay attention throughout the advert you see that Lily is playing with toys not stereotypically associated with her gender, toys such as telescopes, Lego and scooters are all featured. This is perhaps not that surprising when you consider that the advert is directed by Kim Gehrig, the same Kim Gehrig who directed the Sport England ‘This Girl Can’ campaign.

At the end of the day yes, this is just a Christmas advert continuing the same style John Lewis introduced four years ago featuring the John Lewis brand and their brand only but the Man On the Moon marks a different direction for the company. Showcasing different gender norms and encouraging awareness of a charity, that in the week since the advertisement aired have already seen a dramatic upturn in the people submitting requests to spend time with people who have no one this Christmas, can only be a good and something to be applauded.

Considering how talked about John Lewis adverts have been over the years, it will be interesting to see whether the Man On the Moon has any impact on sales over the next year and even more interestingly whether John Lewis employ the same defying-the-norm tactic for their commercial in 2016.

Matthew Gibbs