Uncategorized

This article is intended to add some background and additional thinking to Mike Villiers-Stuart’s recent blog on Working Methodologies (Villiers-Stuart, M. 2016), in which Mike presents three strategic methodologies. In the context of these frameworks, we need to consider how we can deliver strategic approaches that bring value in a constantly changing landscape of digital channels and platforms. In short, how can we develop an effective digital methodology?

 Platforms, Channels and Formats 

“There was a time when people felt the internet was another world, but now people realise it’s a tool that we use in this world.”  Tim Berners-Lee

Since the explosion of the internet in the mid-1990s we have seen the continued growth of digital marketing channels (Meeker, M. 2015). Within the broad definition of ‘online’ there are an increasing number of platforms that offer opportunities for brand advertising; desktop/laptops, smartphones, tablets and, potentially, wearable devices. Eventually we might even include the connected fridge as a platform. These technologies have driven the emergence of new media channels, specifically web, mobile or social media. These channels have led to a plethora of formats from display ads to paid search to native content or video ads. As a result of this combination of platforms, channels and formats, marketing and advertising has become an increasingly complex landscape.

The other side of this challenge is that consumer behaviour in the brand context has become similarly complex. Arguably, our basic human needs, as defined by Maslow remain largely the same. The difference is that these needs are being played out in many different places. Way, way back, before the internet, advertising and marketing had limited touch points. The aim of advertising was to create something memorable, such as a jingle, a catch phrase or a concept, in the hope that consumers would remember them later at the point of purchase. In the UK the 1980s was a heyday for creative advertising. People such as John Hegarty (Levi’s 501), John Webster (Cadbury Smash, John Smiths, Courage Best) or Tony Kaye (Real Fires, British Rail, Dunlop) were writing adverts that were memorable, often repeated, and memed in playgrounds.

In today’s digital landscape the problem is not simply the numerous channel options, but also that consumers adopt new ones faster than brand advertising. Larry Downes’ identifies an increasing gap between these two groups (Downes, L. 2009) due to the exponential growth of the technology that drives digital media. It means that brands in digital are constantly playing catch-up with their audience.

maslow1

The Role of Planning and Strategy

‘If you have all the research, all the ground rules, all the directives, all the data — it doesn’t mean the ad is written. Then you’ve got to close the door and write something — that is the moment of truth which we all try to postpone as long as possible.’ David Ogilvy

The primary purpose of advertising and marketing is to create brand value, sell products and services, and through that, to create a return on investment (ROI). Simply placing adverts without any strategy in a complex digital media landscape is unlikely to deliver a return. Although some brands have tried this approach, advertising needs something more than just a ‘spray and pray’ strategy.

As early as the 1960s, even with fewer channel choices than now, it became apparent to some advertising UK execs that account managers could not rely on intuition or guesswork to develop their campaigns. Two people are credited with the development of the discipline known as planning; Steven King at JWT and Stanley Pollitt at BMP (Morison, M A et al 2012). They believed that they could produce much better results for clients if advertising professionals looked beyond pure marketing research and interpreted data in a more meaningful way. The discipline has since matured, or to use an advertising term, ‘rebranded’ into a range of roles. The Account Planning Group[1] lists a dozen key positions, and creative recruitment sites include terms such as account planner, strategic planner, strategist, creative strategist, and an old favourite, ‘brand anthropologist’ (Morison M A et al, 2012, Pg 7). The precise definition of who does what, and especially, who is more important in the pecking order, seems to be cause for considerable debate. Tracy Fellows, Chair of the Association of Account Planning said there is “a culture emerging in our industry that isn’t clear on what strategy is or what it does.” (Tiltman, D, 2011). In spite of this confusion, there are some broad principles that underpin the discipline that go beyond a single job definition. Some would even argue that job definitions are in fact, irrelevant.[2] Ultimately any strategy aims to take a brand from pain to gain – identifying a problem and finding a solution. That boils down to understanding research, developing some insight and through that, offering the brand a creatively led solution or ‘a moment of truth’. Regardless of what we title it, strategy is a meeting of analysis and creativity.

The Rise of Digital

Even in the 60s, the amount of market research was too much for an account manager to interpret (Morison M A et al, 2012). Now, with an explosion of digital channels we have many more measures and research data. Along side the market research offered by companies such as Nielsen, Kantar, IPSOS and Comscore, planners, or strategists for that matter, can also access some exotic analytics data generated from digital channels. Typically it covers usage information, such as web or app analytics[3] that works in conjunction with primary research conducted by a brand or agency.

fishburne1

Tom Fishburne, Marketoonist.com

At the other end of the process is the deployment of marketing and advertising. What tactics will the marketer use in order to deliver the strategy? As new platforms develop, tactics will inevitably change. The shift and the resulting opportunities to advertisers in digital platforms has been closely tracked for some years by Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends. Other indicators of a shift include Google’s ad revenue for search and display, which has nearly doubled to $20bn in a decade (Reported in Ad Week, July 2016), and social media advertising, where Facebook has seen revenues go from zero to $3.3bn in less than 10 years (Seetharaman, D. 2016, WSJ).

Such rapid growth creates a confusing landscape in which to deploy brand engagement. One example is the Internet Advertising Bureau’s Ad Unit Portfolio[4] which shows hundreds of options for just one of many advertising channels, display advertising. Another indicator of this is the growth is in technology providers in the digital landscape. Scott Brinker in the Chief Marketing Technologist blog found that the number of players in the market almost doubled between 2014-15[5].

The challenge for advertising agencies that stems from a changing landscape is that of risk. How do we prove engagement in new, emerging channels? Brands, by their very nature, tend to be risk-averse and shy away from what they see as untried channels. Therefore the role of strategy becomes more important in helping brands to understand the new landscape and manage that risk (and, of course, to spend the money).

Technology as a Tool

One of the biggest challenges of the modern digital landscape is that particular platforms or technologies drive a campaign. It’s not unusual to hear a client say ‘put a QR[6] code on it’ , ‘we want an app’, ‘let’s use iBeacons[7]’ or ‘we want an augmented reality campaign’. In some ways it is understandable. An emerging platform such as the smartphone is very feature driven, and thus the technology is at the forefront. The challenge is that tech-driven thinking is not strategic. All it is doing is describing the tools to deliver a campaign. Imagine that you commissioned a portrait only by describing the brushes you want the artist to use? It’s no different in advertising. Describing a technological feature fails to show an understanding of the audience or the context in which they might be engaged. It’s important to keep in mind that the technology itself is agnostic – there is nothing wrong with it – but without a strategy it is often used poorly.

Furthermore a lack of strategy in emerging platforms creates a ‘me too’ approach – using a channel simply because everyone else seems to be doing it. When some brands are early into a channel and see a small measure of success, others jump on the bandwagon. User generated content in social media is a good example of this. There’s a Tumblr dedicated to this, called tellusyourstoryblog.tumblr.com, that documents numerous brands that have asked users to share their story. The most surprising of these is PreparahionH, the pile cream. A strategic approach might reveal that another ‘send us your selfie’ campaign is not the best way to engage an audience in this context.

From Pain to Gain: Strategic Methodologies

Today’s planning discipline in advertising agencies is essentially an applied practice rather than a theoretical concept. Although there are supporting theories, strategic methodologies are rooted in a practical delivery of a campaign to an audience – the straight forward pain-to-gain process. An effective strategic tool can be understood in three stages; research, insight and creative. Within each stage there are a number of smaller processes that contribute to the development of the strategy. Although it is often described in a linear way, the reality is that development doesn’t always take a such simple path. For example, creative might be considered at an early stage in the process then reviewed or changed following further strategic insights.

In a complex digital world, this process can understandably become confusing. In order to formulate an effective strategy it is therefore necessary to use a framework, such as DPDDD, SOSTAC or Storyscaping. These are not solutions that can provide an answer, but instead are tools that describe the flow of development in which to deliver an effective, meaningful strategy.

Strategic Realists

Realists or cynics? It all depends on your perspective. With the rise of digital channels, strategic methodologies have become more complex. Inevitably, some argue that it creates an unnecessary mystification of the process. Chief amongst these is Byron Sharp (2010). He proposes that advertising is not sufficiently underpinned by empirical research and suggests that the objectives of many strategic methodologies are false. Strategists may focus on creating brand value through storytelling that will deliver brand fans or advocates. Advertisers will cite passion brands such as Harley Davidson or Apple who deliver a brand story that creates advocates who will purchase more frequently and encourage others to do so. The most referenced example of such brand fans are those that have the Harley Davidson tattoo. Sharp’s research identifies the concept of a fan as largely a myth and that the purchase/repurchase rate is similar for most brands. A little more vociferous in his argument is Bob Hoffman, Ad Contrarian (2007). A long-standing ad-man, Hoffman believes that brand strategists are mistaken in identifying consumers as ‘fans’. He suggests that what is described as ‘brand advocacy’ is nothing more than convenience and habit. He would go so far as to argue that brands are misled by their agencies who are creating something of ‘an emperor’s new clothes’ about what is fundamentally a simple process. He suggests that this is why brands will deliver inappropriate campaigns such as social media ‘Tell Us Your Story’, smartphone apps that are hardly used, and banner ads that are rarely clicked on. The Advertising Realists believe that it is really not that complicated. Arguably it’s in the interests of agencies (and their fees) to make it seem so. The Strategic Realists are typified by an irreverent, almost punk spirit that seeks to break down much of the pompousness of current advertising strategy. An Open Letter to All of Marketing and Advertising is a good example of this approach (Anon, 2010), which ends with the plea:

‘If you’d like to tell me what’s good about your product, fine. I may buy it. I may not …But, not to put too-fine-a-point on it, please, please, PLEASE, if you wouldn’t mind, awfully. Leave me alone. Thanks.’

Tools for The Job

All of this presents our core question. Which strategic methodology, if any, is the most appropriate? Perhaps the solution is to take a strategic approach to strategy itself. Just as technology is a tool, a strategic framework is simply there to deliver a job. The job of good advertising. That choice of tool should consider the values of the agency, the needs of the client and the campaign objectives. Thus, the DPDDD methodology is an effective tool for clients who are results driven, looking for an end-to-end solution. SOSTAC, on the other hand, is designed to meet the needs of a marketing-led approach. Storyscaping is a more in-depth tool that can help build the brand idea, especially in an omni-channel landscape. Storyscaping lends itself well to engagement for passion brands but it may over complicate the process where consumers are uninvolved with the brand, such as the classic FMCG product, a packet of soap powder.

These are just examples of how the tools might be applied and are far from exhaustive. Ultimately the choice of methodologies should be underpinned by the basic principles of strategy – identify some relevant research, critically assess it to create some insight and develop creative that meets the needs of the brand.

Bibliography

Villiers-Stuart, M. Overview: Working the Methdology, 2016,
http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/futuremedia/2016/10/07/overview-working-the-methodology/

Meeker, M. Internet Trends 2016, 2015, KPCB

Morison, MA et al Using Qualitative Research in Advertising, 2012 (2nd Ed) Sage Publications

Downes, L, The Laws of Disruption:Harnessing the New Forces That Govern Life and Business in the Digital Age, 2009, Basic Books

Tiltman, D. The death of the big idea and the future of strategy, 2014, Brand Report
http://www.brandreportblog.com/the-death-of-the-big-idea-and-the-future-of-strategy-david-tiltman-warc/

Seetharaman, D. Facebook Revenue Soars on Ad Growth, 2016, WSJ
http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-revenue-soars-on-ad-growth-1461787856

Sharp, B. How Brands Grow, What Marketers Don’t Know, 2010, OUP

Hoffman, B. The Ad Contrarian, Getting beyond the fleeting trends, false goals, and dreadful jargon of contemporary Advertising, 2007

Anon, An Open Letter to All of Advertising and Marketing, 2010, PSFK
http://www.psfk.com/2010/08/an-open-letter-to-all-of-advertising-and-marketing.html

[1] There is a list of key planning roles to be found at http://www.apg.org.uk/#!apg-planningjobguide/c1lkf

[2] This might be controversial to some who believe the difference is significant, such as Jinal Shah who argued the importance of the planner vs strategist definition in his Constant Beta blog: http://jinalshah.com/2012/05/29/lets-fuckin-set-the-record-straight-account-planners-and-digital-strategists-are-not-the-same/

[3] These kinds of analytics are typically drawn from individual web-site based logs into formats such as Google Analytics. In addition there are aggregations of this data through tools such as GS Stats Counter or Google Trends to highlight just two.

[4] The IAB Ad Unit Portolio [http://www.iab.net/adunitportfolio] looks at ‘display ads’ such as web banners, mobile and video advertising formats.

[5] A rise from 947 in 2014 to 1,876 in 2015 http://chiefmartec.com/2015/01/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2015/

[6] QR codes originated as a means of tracking parts in the vehicle industry. They were adopted in Japan as a means of delivering a URL to a mobile device due to the complexities of translating Japanese into Roman-type URLs. However, there are few examples of successful campaigns in Europe and the US. I discussed this problem with Graham Charlton at Econsultancy (2013) in the following blog post: https://econsultancy.com/blog/62397-qr-codes-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

[7] I looked at the challenge for Beacons in this blog post: http://brandsandinnovation.com/2014/10/28/beacons-the-saviour-of-retail-probably-not/

Uncategorized

Here is a brief explanation and some sketches of the model I put together in class to help frame the workflow around the methodologies we use in our projects on the programme.

So far, we’ve opened up 3 methodologies and all of them are workflows: SOSTAC is a marketing tool, DPDDD is a project process and Storyscaping is about building experience spaces.

All 3 perform many of the same functions: they generate insights to inform decision-making. They are proven pathways to professional practice, good templates for our research and essential check-lists in our project management.

1. SOSTAC http://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/sostac-model/ developed by PR Smith, examines:

Situation Analysis…/…Objectives…/…Strategy…/…Tactics…/…Actions…/…Control

2. DPDDD http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/futuremedia/2013/06/05/future-media-the-new-rules-of-digital-communication/ attributed to McCann Digital, looks at:

Discovery…/…Planning…/…Design…/…Development…/…Deployment

3. Storyscaping http://www.storyscaping.com/educators/ created by SapientNitro’s Gaston Legorburu and Darren McColl, integrates:

Brand values and customer experiences in shared story systems.

We often “pick ‘n mix” from all 3 methodologies to help us frame our projects, describe what we are doing and structure our workflows, reports and presentations.

The illustrations here flow in a linear fashion: from research… to insights… to decisions… to measurement… because good ideas have to be rooted in relevance and guarantee returns:

1. I’ve located the brand at the beginning of the whole issue because this is often the ‘hero’ to be championed in our business and marketing objectives. We usually want to build or extend brand value to customers and so increase the premium. The plan is to deliver a good user experience, this will help build positive perceptions, loyalty and ultimately the bottom line… (See de Chernatony et al Creating Powerful Brands 2013 for lots more on this).

1

2. The brand is a shared collection of values and experiences between its products/services and their users. It’s in this shared intersection that the brand community is established as a “we” located between “us” and “them”; some online examples include https://www.pottermore.comhttp://www.redbull.tvhttps://members.hog.comhttps://discussions.apple.com/welcome

2

3. Brands need to constantly monitor and audit that relationship amongst their users… and amongst their competitors in the sector. How are “we” performing? Are “we” competitive? Are “we” value for money? How can “we” improve? What insights can “we” get from industry? What insight can “we” get from our customers?

3

4. All this data and information comes from real people through primary market research  and industry or academic/published sources as secondary market research. It is a measure of the shared experience between the brand and its users. This data is valuable insight that helps us to build representative ‘personas’ from our demographic samples. These personas and their lifestyles are the brand’s targets.

4

5. The personas help us to ‘position’ the brand in its competitive sector and map users’ ‘perception’ of the brand. Is this where “we” thought the brand was located? Is this where “we” want to be? Where do the brand’s personas want it to be located? How can they get maximum value? Where does the brand need to be located to deliver the best experience?

5

6. The brand uses this positioning and these perceptions to map a journey of where it needs to be by plotting a trajectory into the personas’ preferred location. This is a journey the brand its going to have to make if it wants to adapt and change its users’ perceptions and behaviours. Along the way, it will have to ‘reach’ its personas by hitting touch points in their lives as ‘super fans’, ‘fans’ and ‘potential fans’ of the brand.

6

6a. And it’s the lifestyles of those personas as super fans, fans and potential fans that lights the way. The stuff they care about, the language they speak and the media they consume is all essential insight into how “we” communicate with each other. The persona insights show us how to organise our creative direction, strategy and planning. They give the brand its “Organising Idea” (Legorburu G, McColl D, Storyscaping  2014) that curates all the other ideas e.g. “Taste the Magic” (Coca Cola 2016).

6a

7. Now the brand can plot that journey, it can plan its trajectory of added value by optimising personas’ touch points in a ‘narrative curve’ (Campbell J, The Hero with a Thousand Faces 2008) that targets media platforms and channels to tell a story and deliver relevant communication through shared experiences that are in line with what personas want. The insights from 5 and 6 show the brand where to find the super fans, fans and potential fans, how to key into their habits and how engage them. This is their shared ‘user journey’.

7

8. And the effectiveness of that user journey is measurable when ‘key performance indicators’ reflect word of mouth and buzz around persona touch points as communications activity ripples out across channels and platforms in owned, bought and earned media. In turn, this will give projections around return on investment as well as offering the potential to exploit the product life cycle (Vernon R, International Trade and International Investment in the Product Life Cycle 1966) with opportunities for brand extensions and monetization through transmedia and merchandising at key stages along the way (growth, maturity, decline or set-up, climax, resolution).

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That’s it for now… We’ll unpack all the above in greater depth as this semester unfolds; I just wanted you to have a copy of this overview from our first 2 classes as a reference for any thoughts you might want to develop in your assignment, as something to accompany my videos slide stacks and a general picture to work with going forwards.

Industry Insights, Uncategorized

Have you ever heard such a word a word as “Yandex”? If so, you might have dealt with Russian internet market or you are an expert in digital industry and aware of key players on international scale. For those, who has no idea what Yandex is, this post will be interesting and hopefully informative.

The history of Yandex started in late 80’s. The site that we know today was created in 1997. In 1998 except usual search Yandex added the option of searching by dates, which gave users sort of multiplicity. Besides the number of indexed pages was much higher than any other search engines at the market at that time.

In 1999 the team of Yandex marketers launched a TV commercial with a slogan “Everything is findable”, which was very unusual, particularly for a post-soviet audience.  Despite the fact that people hardly understood the meaning of the slogan, history demonstrates that they checked the website at least because it was known.  As a result, audience was growing tremendously and in 2000 Yandex was recognized as a number one search engine in Russia.

Automatically set homepage has played an important role in Yandex success. During the period of uncontrolled soft very often as a result of downloading any soft Yandex has been set as a homepage. Users weren’t aware of methods to remove it and consequently left the page by default. That clearly has illustrated the fact that Yandex leveraged users’ incompetence to hold its position at the market at the time of the Internet development in Russia.

Google came at Russian market in the end of 2004. Traditionally Google volume of audience maintains comparatively low due to Yandex monopoly. However, as it might be seen from the graph below Google had a strong surge in the number of users in 2014.

screenshot1

This stat prompted me to compare these two web giants, to better understand their pros and cons and clarify which search engine has more chances to dominate the Russian market.

  Yandex advantages

    • Language issues are easily tackled by Yandex. In addition, the Russian search engine is better at understanding CrazyFont: writing in Russian using English, rather than Cyrillic letters. CrazyFont is the most popular among Russians living abroad who don’t have access to a Russian keyboard. Yandex understands the complex searches better and therefore, returns more results.
    • Regional search results are more relevant. It is more likely to find precise information relative to regional news in Yandex rather than in Google.
    • Integration with Yandex services as mail, traffics, weather forecast, cloud storage, maps, web wallet, news. Everything is on the main page and accessible in one click.screensho44t

The design is a matter of preferences, for those, who are a fan of minimalism, there is a special version of Yandex with domain name ya.ruscreenshddotGoogle advantages

        • Higher relevancy of search results, which lies in different ways of ranking. Google is more content orientated, web site optimization is a core element of being ranked highly by Google. Things are much simpler with Yandex, search engine builds his top list based mainly on number of backlinks and its authority (SeoIntelect, 2015).Obviously, this is not the only ranking factor, web sites still need to be user-friendly, have a seamless user journey and quality content. Although Yandex announced in 2014 that the use of backlinks as a ranking factor has been rejected, the experts from “Ashanov and partners” showed that still it significantly affects positioning. Despite the latest attempts of improvements in this field, Yandex is still lagging behind its competitor.
        • Speed of indexing pages is significantly better compared to Yandex, the reason being the differing method of indexing pages. Yandex is gathering new pages in one database and only after filtering put it into users search results. On average Yandex’s update takes 7 days, while Google is indexing new pages and sending it in search results simultaneously. Russian analytical company “Ashanov and partners” measures the speed of indexing pages annually. Google is being an absolute leader.
        • screenshqot
        • Mobile orientation is one of the key, winning tactics that Google has used. Being a default search engine for Android platform, Google reaches the majority of Russian mobile users; Why is this?
        • First of all, it is a crucial aspect for any search engines to become a default one on desktops or mobile devices. Importance of that might be illustrated by Yandex’s example itself. At times, when Apple didn’t allow to set up Yandex as a default search provider on iPhones, Yandex market share on this device accounted for 35%. However, as soon as Yandex was included in a list of possible default search providers, its share has increased by 14%.

          Secondly, mobile phone usage of Google, especially among young audience, is rising. The share of devices, using for Internet access, has been changing fast. According to TNS in 2015 mobile phones share raised by 34 % over last year, along with smart TV and tablets, 41% and 20 % respectively, while desktop’s share went down by 1%.  Picture1

        • The third reason is Android smartphones. The figures from Mail.ru Group report show that 75 % of Russian users have Android platform on their smartphones, that makes Google number one search engine on mobile phones. Moreover, Google is likely to seek a further increase in a share of the mobile audience as the economy shrinks, incomes decline and people prefer cheaper Android phones. It is no wonder why the well thought-out move from Google has led to a remarkable increase in number of users. Last year Russia opened an investigation into Google after the desperate Yandex asked for a review of the U.S. company’s Android mobile operating system. Yandex asked Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service to check if Google is violating Russian regulation. Sergey Libin, Moscow-based analyst at Raiffeisenbank, suspects that “Yandex expects a ruling in its favor and sees it as a silver bullet (Bloomberg, 2014).

Though Yandex may in some ways be better suited to serving the Russian Internet user, after all it is domestic service, Google seems to have an advantage with its wider accessibility. Overall, the reality is that Internet users are migrating to mobile and since Android devices dominate mobile, Google will increase its number of users and probably will be able to catch up with Yandex.

Uncategorized

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

Marketing, Team, Uncategorized

Here is the second part of our previous blogpost introducing the new Future Media students, The new team have been around for nearly a month now and are getting used to the various process and life in Birmingham.

Introducing……

Name: Michala Zapletajova

Michala Zapletajova
Place of birth: Martin Slovak republic
Area of speciality: marketing and advertising
Star Sign: Leo
1 word about you: sweet and communicative
Favourite social media platform: Instagram
Least favourite social media platform:
5 things that interest you: learning new things, exploring new places, spending time with family and friends, shopping, watching documentaries
Favourite movie: The Prestige
Favourite meal: Salmon with Potatoes
Favourite brand: River Island
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: Vodka
Last book you read: Inferno, Dan Brown
Most visited blog: Atlantic-Pacific (fashion blog)
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters) I would like to have a good job in marketing/advertising industry, developing my skills and making progress. Maybe I´ll try to have my own little advertising company.

Name: Matt Harrison

Matt Harrison
Matt Harrison

Place of Birth: North Wales, St Asaph
Area of Speciality: Web Design, Video Editing, Photography
Star Sign: Pisces
1 word about you: Perfectionist
Favourite social media platform: Vimeo
Least favourite social media platform: Google+
5 things that interest you: Creative Design, Epic Film + TV, Physics, Psychology, Health + Fitness
Favourite movie: Independence Day
Favourite meal: Jack Daniels Beef Burger with Sweet Potato Fries
Favourite brand: Blur
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: Whiskey
Last book you read: The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
Most visited blog: www.maddox.xmission.com
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters) Although at the time of writing I’m in the early stages of my Masters in Future Media, I would like to see myself working for a digital marketing company as a campaign coordinator or UX specialist. I feel as though I have a massive amount a creativity just waiting to burst out when working with the right project. Only time will tell.

Name: Lennon Andrew Ricardo Chandler.
Lennon Chandler
Place of birth: Bridgetown, Barbados.
Area of specialty: Creative direction/Conceptualization.
Star sign: Leo (rawr).
1 Word about you: Dreamer.
Favourite social media platform: It’s a tie between Instagram and Pinterest.
Least favourite social media platform: Google + hands down is my least favourite. Haven’t accessed it since 2012.
5 things that interests you: Aviation, music, illustration (comics and video games especially), modern architecture and food (cooking and eating).
Favourite movie: Shamefully, The Devil Wears Prada stands out.
Favourite meal: Lasagna, even though I’m not supposed to eat cheese. Aw well, #YOLO.
Favourite brand: An airline of all things is my favourite brand. jetBlue!
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: I’m more of a wine drinker. Hard liquor ends badly for me.
Last book you read: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. How profound of me…
Most visited blog: Not really a blog, but, www.airliners.net.
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters): Prospering, of course. A senior creative direction role within an agency or a brand. I’d love for my magazine, MUZE Caribbean to also take off spectacularly!

Name: Emmanuel
Emmanuel Ochoga
Place of birth: Otukpo Nigeria
Area of speciality: Interested in Branding
Star Sign: Capricorn
1 words about you: perfectionist
Favourite social media platform: Linkedln
Least favourite social media platform: Tumblr
5 things that interest you:
Watching News Tv station, Watching EPL, Listening to Gospel music, Playing with my wife and children, Travelling
Favourite movie: Coming to America
Favourite meal: Hmmm Basmati Rice and vegetable source
Favourite brand: Apple
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: Naaaa! Don’t do any
Last book you read: Advertisement for Dummies
Most visited blog: www.virgin.com/richard-branson
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters) I see myself as a top notch branding and marketing consultant, with a PhD in the related field. Could also be lecturing and preaching the gospel alongside.

Name: Mon
Monika Stepien
Place of birth: Poznan, Poland
Area of speciality: research, planning
Star Sign: Cancer
1 word about you: hard-working,
Favourite social media platform: Youtube
Least favourite social media platform: Google+
5 things that interest you: music, film, social media, literature, street fashion
Favourite movie: Pulp Fiction
Favourite meal: Dumplings made by my Dad
Favourite brand: Asos
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: Vodka (Absolut Vanilia)
Last book you read: Women by Charles Bukowski
Most visited blog: http://www.onlydeadfish.co.uk/only_dead_fish/
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters)
In the next 3-5 years I would like to be a successful woman with a happy family. I would love to work as a brand or media strategist. We spend 5 days a week at work, so obviously I would like to work in a place which would make me feel enthusiastic about getting up early in the morning and going to work… I want my job to be my pleasure. A perfect place would McCann or Asos.

The new bunch are heading off to London for various agency visit’s next week stay tuned to find out how they got on in the capital city.

Uncategorized

CourseAd_01

Meet Interactive Entertainment, Birmingham City University’s hardcore, two-year undergraduate degrees – perfect for a career in digital marketing, games development or digital art.

Our employer partners in these industries want experience. We provide it. You get real studio experience working and studying 9am-5pm, all year-round over two years, on real projects with professional practitioners and tutors.

Digital Marketing:

Our Interactive Entertainment Digital Marketing course is a broader, undergraduate version of the popular Future Media: Pro course.

Brought to you by the people behind the industry-leading Future Media and Gamer Camp postgraduate courses, and taught by experienced industry professionals, Interactive Entertainment, Digital Marketing, BSc (Hons) provides professional, hands-on digital agency experience as a key part of your future career plan.

Your first agency role:

The same experience-led, educational journey we pride our postgraduate courses on is also at the heart of all our Interactive Entertainment courses.

So, unlike other courses, we treat this like your first creative industry job.

How? Well, you’ll study and work 9-5, Monday to Friday, for two years – including over the summer. Plus, you’ll also be given your own free laptop to work on (for the duration of the course).

By the time you graduate, a whole year before most students, you’ll have two years of tangible, digital marketing and production experience under your belt; ready to find your perfect job in the ever-growing digital industries.

Don’t forget, a two-year course also means only two years of course fees too!

Along the way, you’ll gain the theoretical and intellectual skills, mixed with the practical and team-working experience that digital and media employers are looking for.

Make yourself employable in a growing sector:

At key points within the Digital Marketing course you’ll join with our programming and art production students to work collaboratively on ‘live briefs’ and development projects from real clients.

Inter-disciplinary working is the industry norm throughout the creative and media production professions and so this is mirrored in the Interactive Entertainment courses at Birmingham City University.

Throughout the course you will devise strategic campaign proposals based on your own market insight and analysis and manage the production of interactive comics, brand tie-in video games and cross-platform entertainment solutions.

After graduating, you’ll be equipped with a unique mix of broad skills and deep level specialist know-how; making you hugely employable in the ever-growing creative economy.

 Laptop included:

All students on the programme will be issued with a laptop to use whilst on the course. Your computer will be preloaded with all the industry-standard software required to complete the ‘live-brief’ assignments and roles you’ll work on with your colleagues in a buzzing digital communications and production studio.

On the course, you’ll be taught by established industry professionals with a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm, who are experienced at recognising and responding to the rapidly changing demands within the industry.

 Agency studio and resources:

You’ll be based in an agency style studio right next door to your Digital Art and Digital Games Development colleagues where you’ll be working with state-of-the-art resources and like-minded talent to deliver digital marketing solutions to client briefs.

Together you’ll be developing and creating branded interactive content for audiences to engage with in multi-platform campaigns. The Digital Marketing course is configured to give your talent for communication the direction and experience required to work with brands, clients, creative teams and production resources to deliver truly interactive entertainment in digital marketing.

So, if this sounds like you, ask for a one-to-one conversation with us or apply online now:

www.bcu.ac.uk/pme/nti/interactive-entertainment 

_MG_9696
Planning interactive content for production.
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Working with clients and creative teams.
GREEN
Shooting content at Birmingham City University’s Parkside studios.
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Shooting content at Birmingham City University’s Parkside studios.
Marketing, Uncategorized

MChammer

One hit wonders have existed since the inception of commercial music, from the likes of Afroman, Khia,Cheeky girls, T.A.T.U to mention a few, as part of the #5Reasons blogpost series we would compare who is more of an Icon and not a one hit wonder between McHammer and PSY.
Stanley Kirk Burrell, known professionally as M.C. Hammer, is an American rapper, dancer, entrepreneur, spokesman and occasional actor. He had his greatest commercial success and popularity from the late 1980s until the late 1990s-Wikipedia

Park Jae-sang, hangul: 朴載相, better known by his stage name Psy, stylized PSY, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, record producer and television personality-Wikipedia

I was given the brief to write this post after a group of students said they had no idea of whom MCHammer was but they knew who PSY was. I was quite shocked to be honest that they hadn’t heard of Hammer time! Basically this post is to highlight what makes MChammer more of an Icon than PSY!

1.Public Poll
The first step was to ask the question, who is the king of the genre they are both in, known as pop-rap. The question was asked on Polar which is an app created by Luke Wroblewski, Polar lets you create polls and makes it super quick and easy for your audience to tell you what they think. From the public poll on Polar out of 50 respondents 40 confirm that MC Hammer is the King of Pop-Rap.(see image above)

2. Commercial Revenue Success
Although MC hammer has been around for a longer period, number of released albums would still be used as a point to differentiate these two characters, MC hammer has released 12 albums to date compared to 6 albums released by PSY. PSY’s most successful album PSY6 (six rules) which contains hit single Gangnam style sold 106,594 copies in South Korea sales compared to 10 million copies sold in the US of “Please hammer don’t hurt them” which contains one of his most popular songs “U cant touch this- Hammertime” Okay he did get over a billion views on YouTube, which would have some financial benefit, but it was for one single not an album.

3. Real Talent
MC Hammer was able to switch genres going from pop-rap to gospel music, which led him to release a gospel album during his career. PSY is known as a controversial artist, although touching on thought provoking issues, which all artist do, but PSY was not clever enough in his interpretation of these issues which led to his music being banned in his main market, I haven’t read anywhere that any of MC Hammer’s music was banned. First rap artist to achieve diamond status- when a musician sells over 10million copies of an album.

4. Brand Endorsement
While carrying out research for this post, it was apparent that several brands saw value in both acts, and used both of these acts to gain some brand awareness and increase their TOMA scores. One of these acts was seen as more valuable to brands. MC Hammer endorsement deal at $138 million with British Knights compared with the $4.6 million PSY received from brands like Samsung and Wonderful pistachios just goes to show you who the brands believed in.

5. Awards
A Grammy Award (originally called Gramophone Award), or Grammy, is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States have recognized MC Hammer on three occasions in 1991 for His most successful album, Hammer please doesn’t hurt them. He won 3 Grammy awards that year. Best music video, best RnB song and best rap solo performance. The song “U cant touch this-Hammertime” won two awards, last time I checked Gangnam style hadn’t received a nomination.

Finally what would a blogpost be without a video, now stop #Hammertime.

Marketing, Uncategorized

Interactive Marketing has been around for quite sometime now, however with the cost of technology coming down and the freedom to do some amazing things through innovative and interesting means, a lot of brands want to do it more. Below are 6 Interactive ways through which Brands are going to talk to you.

Interactive Billboards

There is a huge surge in the number of interactive billboards that we are going to see. Below is an example of British Airways by Ogilvy

Interactive Floors & Tables

The use of physical space is going to be another area that will get a lot of attention. TheFunTheory.com wanted more people to take the stairs and this is what they did:

Interactive Windows

More and more stores are going to have interactive windows to hook the customer as they pass by. Below is a beautiful execution for Carte Noire – Intensity by AllOfUs which we had a chance to see during our agency week.

Carte Noire – Intensity from AllofUs™ on Vimeo.

Interactive Bus Shelters

When you are waiting for the bus, all people do is keep to their phones or just stare blankly at the road in hope that the bus arrives soon, which is why interactive bus stop ads are so effective.  Pepsi Max had a fun way to entertain people in a recent campaign:

Interactive Mirrors

Interactive Mirrors would greatly aid in the retail space. By mixing augmented reality the possibilities are endless. Puma used interactive mirrors in one of their stores a couple of years back:

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled to witness some of these magical marketing.

Uncategorized

For those of you who didn’t know, The Los Angeles Korean Pop Festival is happening this saturday in memory of the 111th anniversary of Korean American immigration. For many of you out there when thinking of K-pop, the Youtube sensation ‘Gangnam Style‘ will come to mind.

Nevertheless, nobody can argue against the fact that in recent years the Korean music scene has grown out of obscurity to become a recognised entity in the online world. Whether that be through cheesy music videos from bands you’ve never heard of, or through a flood of GIFs of pretty boy bands that seem more suited to a mid 90s cover of Smash Hits magazine.

Regardless of these thoughts, here is my list of 5 characteristics of K-pop music videos that make the genre so great!

 

1. OVERLY LARGE POP GROUPS

When it comes to the size of pop groups the word ‘small’ doesn’t seem to exist in Korean vocabulary. With the ever popular girls group Girls’ Generation (소녀시대) having nine members and the boy band Super Junior (슈퍼주니어) having twelve. The example below features the twelve member group EXO (엑소) and their hit ‘Growl’ which, even though it was shot in just one take has an awe inspiring 31 million hits on youtube.

EXO – Growl MV

 

2. CATCHY TUNES

The world of Korean pop is overflowing with catchy tunes. This one from the group Wonder Girls (원더걸스) is a classic from as far back as 2007 (that’s a long time ago in K-pop years), full of everything a great video needs..super heroes, flashers and funky dance moves.

Wonder Girls -Tell Me MV

 

3. SEXY DANCE MOVES

Ok ok..the horse dance in ‘Gangnam Style’ may not be the sexiest but believe it or not the hall of K-pop fame is full of them. This music video by 4Minute (포미닛) girl group member HyunA (현아) and BEAST (비스트)  member Hyunseung (장현승) is one of my favourites.

HyunA and Hyunseung – Troublemaker MV.

 

4. HIGH VALUE PRODUCTION

When it comes to high quality music videos nothing beats Korean pop. This music video is of Big Bang (빅뱅)’s ‘Fantastic Baby’ , one of the most popular K-pop groups of all time, winning the “Best Worldwide Act” award at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. This video alone has had over 100 million hits on youtube and is definitely worth a watch..

Big Bang – Fantastic Baby MV

 

5. CRAZY PLOTS

And of course Korean pop culture wouldn’t be Korean pop culture without mind-blowing plots and tear-jerking ballads. Beneath all of the glamour, beautiful tunes and gorgeous stars there is often a sad story waiting to break out and force you to reach for the tissues. This music video is from the Queens of ballads Davichi (다비치).

Davichi – Don’t Say Goodbye MV

There, that’s it. I hope this blog post has given you the confidence to explore K-pop and realise its true klout in the world of global pop music especially on the youtube scene. Even if it hasn’t gone that far, you’ll now realise that there is more to K-pop than seeing an estranged older relative doing the horse dance at a family disco. At least be thankful for that!

Ben White joined Future Media team in 2013 and has plagued us with his obsession for Korean pop music ever since. After discovering his love from first watching the Pops in Seoul television show over seven years ago Ben is determined to convince the western world of the allure of the K-pop brand.

 

Agency visits, Team, Uncategorized

Future Media - London Agency Week

The newest recruits at the Agency got to spend 96 Hours in London to gain insights into the digital marketing industry and network with like-minded professional. This is part of the induction into the agency, 6 of the top digital marketing agencies were visited during this period. The new recruits would share their experiences through the next series of blogposts.

To share the experience on social media the Hashtag #FMLDN2014 was created. A total of 80 tweets including pictures were recorded under the hashtag top influencers of the hashtag were:
@Jackg132-28mentions
@Ad340soye-25mentions
@Qrious85-20 mentions

There where noticeable strategic brand placements on products and service around London which would definitely increase TOMA (Top Of Mind Awareness) scores for the respective brands, the ones that stood out were MasterCard, with the branded plastics sleeves of the oyster card and Virgin who provided Wi-Fi during transit on the underground.

Here is a list of some of the apps that came in handy during the London visit.
Twitter, Google maps, Gmail, Tube map, Foursquare, Instagram, Tinder, Qr-code reader.
Embracing one of the trends of 2014 in digital marketing Social Mobile Location marketing (SoMoLo), we used location based social platform foursquare for check-ins and to get recommendations of places to visit in whichever area we where, we visited the Halcyon gallery on Bond street where we saw an original Andy Warhol “Mao-Zedong” and unlocked the Andy Warhol badge on Foursquare.

From the previous blogpost on the introduction to the new recruits there is a diverse cultural background and we got to experience a bit of each others culture we went to a halal restaurant for dinner and we all tried hummus- Hummus is a Middle Eastern and Arabic food dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.

We also had some home cooked Vietnamese meal courtesy of our personal chef- @ThanhHoaHoang

Stay tuned for next weeks post on The Rise of Social Video – Unruly & Social Partners.