Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Facebook, sure what good is it to MY clients?

I've written about advertising on Facebook here before a little bit, but as the numbers start to go exponential it's worth examining fb in closer detail. Of late they've started using their blog to subdivide their possible markets, of which there are an endless number.

There are two broad ways to advertise on Facebook: pay per click ads down the left hand margin, or by having a commercial page. It's this latter that Fb are interested in exploring in their Facebook Marketing 101 series.

As a progressive marketing person you should certainly be aware of the practicalities of it all for your clients. It may well be that your hotel chain or fast food franchise client absolutely should not advertise on this medium that's now reaching almost half a million Irish adults, but you should be able to explain to them why not.

Check here to see how Fb goes about talking to restaurants and bars. Three things all restaurants and bars should do to market effectively on Fb. Piss simple, DIY and measureable.

Here's No 2:
Make your Page engaging with applications. Show your restaurant’s great ratings by displaying the Zagat application or add a reservations widget through OpenTable on your main page; display a video of the chefs making the house’s special; allow users to click through an interactive menu. The possibilities are endless.
Our own plucky entrepreneurial chef, Niall Harbison, is a solid lesson in how a business of any size can harness social media and whip the fuckers until they start working for you. He uses Twitter, he blogs personally, he blogs professionally, he uses videocasting a hell of a lot, he gets NEW applications built, his Fb page acts as an aggregator for all he does and his energy is indefatigable. He's been in the Den with the Dragons, he's cooked for Bill Gates and obviously he caught something off him because he is never satisfied, continually pushes himself and is a lesson in social marketing all wrapped up in one dynamic little baldy ball of buzz.

Can do in action. And he can cook like a hoor too. Watch and learn.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday's Adlinks

Sat 21st of Feb was Blog Awards night in Cork. Winners here. Grand Prix sponsored by McConnells, incidentally. They could tell us all about it, if only they blogged.

An interesting looking breakfast love-in for March 26 from the Irish Internet Assoc. Business blogging. Read all about it.

In a related context, Krishna De explains why caution is also important. Business blogging is not the only answer.

The Radio Awards are on March 6th. The Indo gives the spread here.

Halifax UK in crazy pyramid scheme. They dropped quite a few staff during the making of this one.

'Hey, lost your job? At home watching TV? Well look at these ads for shit you can't buy just now!' Cheaper off-peak airtime on the way for advertisers?

What yew readin' for? Paul Dervan recommends some digital marketing books. Pick up at least one...

Where do you go next when your balls have long since dropped? Sony Bravia's latest. Have a happy week darlings.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ad agency websites go nowhere

I have a question.

Why don't your client list pages on your websites actually go to clients? Isn't the internet at all apparent as a, well, a web?

Ok, that's two questions. But see for yourself. Publicis QMP give me this. Chemistry have this. Here's IIBBDO. And DDFH&B, after an interminable wait, offer this.

It's not just the tradvertising agencies either. Cybercom have a static list, and ICAN too.

I don't get it. Six entirely random samples. Six pages of logos and names. Might seem like a small thing, but it strikes me as unconnected thinking. Am I missing something?

'Oh dammit we built the thing didn't we? Shut up already.'

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bord Gais steps onto a two way street

A very interesting event on Tuesday evening. Before launching into the electricity provider fray, Bord Gais decided to talk to bloggers. Before even talking to the press, I'll have you know. They took a group of interested soc media types through the complete above-the-line campaign, created by DDFH&B and craftily titled The Big Switch.

It's a big step for the company. Their hands are tied by the Regulator in the gas market (no pun there) as to what they can charge, but in the electricity market, see, they're free to drop prices lower than the ESB. A guaranteed 10% lower, no matter how low ESB drops over the coming year.

Hence the Big Switch campaign with the lovely Lucy Kennedy. Radio, press, DM, 48s, TV... the whole nine yards of atl. It's obviously a very big deal. They're building a power plant in Cork, so they want to be firing on all cylinders (again, no pun etc). It's a radical departure and one they desperately want to get right.

Yeah, so what. Companies have big launches all the time. High profile mergers, buyouts, tryouts, new products blah blah. It seems like a good offer, they seem like good people and I don't wish failure on them, but I'm not here to shill for them either. I have gas enough as it is.

From my perspective the important so what is the bit about the bloggers. This is a company with the word Bord in the early part of its title. Suggestive of caution, perhaps, or a soup├žon of 'Get away from that newfangled DVD player or you'll burst it' technophobia. Except, my pretties, except...

Except it's not. The BG Staying Alive strategy ( I meant that one) has firmly embraced the blogging community and even has the audacity to hope (and that one) that a Twitter presence will help them in the quest for positive dialogue with socially interactive young Ireland. And guess what: so far it's working. The website is somewhat refreshing too, featuring as it does the lovely Lucy (Is she gone... bigger, or is it just me?) Kennedy.

The marketing dept of Bord Gais, very probably against the advice of many internal voices, invited bloggers into a room and showed us theirs. They asked us not to tell anyone they'd showed us theirs until they also showed the people from the papers the following day, but is this not a small measure of increasing respect from a very big Irish player? I contend, my lords and ladies, that it is. A measure of respect that I predict will reap dividends, as bloggers react kindly to being included, not patronised.

Chief BG on the night, Marketing Manager 'Barry' Nicky Doran said that as a company they did not expect to get the social media side of things right straight away. Fair fucks to him. He expected mistakes. He wasn't entirely comfortable in the space. He was being led, to a degree, by the more tech-aware members of his department, but he was willing to follow that lead. He had his full trad media package in place, he was chuffed with that, and he was ready to depart from the trad use of PR by not having any! Oh my. Instead, the dialogue with the Twits and the Bloggers would be the brave new interaction that would help to launch the Gas Board's entry proper to the all-round energy market.

Even if they make a complete fuck-up of it later on, they have certainly started in the best possible way. Pay close attention to how they manage this one, advertisers, and be anticipating questions from your own clients on the back of this move.

The ripple effect:
You can read more about it here from the man who helped get them into the idea, Damien Mulley.
Another socmedia writer, Peter Donegan, gives his consumer/blogger take on it here.

Over at Fitzy's Cloud Richard has some pre- and post teaser pics and notes that The Big Switch are running Google Adwords too.

Will Knott wrote about it here and posts some pics from the evening itself here.

More bloggers will be writing about it in the coming days, and I hope to have a breakdown of the campaign in the weeks to come.

Update: A more consumerist take on it here from Maman Poulet.

And Brand Ireland blogs on it here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How useful is research? Pt 1: Pie chart analysis

Sorry, pie chart maker. I can't find you to credit you for this great work. This will have to do.
(Thanks Smurf.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Monday's adlinks

'It’s becoming all the more clear that Ireland’s digital industry is growing both in size and sophistication.'
Interactive Return there, stating the increasingly obvious after Friday 13th's lucky scoop of the Grand Prix Award at the Digital Media Awards at the Crowne Plaza. Congratulations also to Strata 3, Cybercom, Curious Wines, Sabrina, Dialogue and all the others worthies who aren't, funnily enough, listed properly anywhere yet. Including on the DMA website. Tsch.

The grey market in Germany is now targetted directly by savvy supermarkets.

I don't care if Brian McCarthy is shilling for UTV Radio. It's a positive message and we're not hearing half enough of them. From Marketing Magazine for Feb.

Yay! More avenues for advertising on the way! (But if your mobile phone co. is selling your history will you want them?)

Lee Rolston, director of marketing for Cadbury Dairy Milk, says: "TV and online are morphing almost daily."

Old news I missed but sounds like a right good one:
"PRESS Ombudsman Professor John Horgan said newspapers would continue to flourish in the new internet age, if they stayed true to the principles of good journalism and truth and accuracy in the news."
And some other Independent chuckles from last week: Today FM dial down profits and Setanta searching down the back of the sofa.

And finally, a little bit of truth leaks out in the maxi-pad research focus group. What next? Boxy but good headlines?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why bother making an ad for yourself? Get a customer to do it.

No we don't have a Trader Joe's here. And I don't know if they're planning it. Probably not yet, because they've got a big chunk in the middle of the US that they don't trade at yet. Interesting retail brand to check out though. A great place to go, if you're 'Looking for great food at great prices, without the gimmicks' (apart from the big fat Hawaiian theme they have going on).

Anyway, if you want a brilliant example of customer power in the new social media space that I've been warbling on about, check out the video below.

The total cost to the retailer? Not even peanuts. In fact the total cost to anyone was probably one day of a nerd's time strumming on a guitar and editing pics of his last trip to TJ's. Reminds me of the many, many commercials I've written for some of our better known Irish supermarkets. Months in gestation. Weeks in production. Casting 'perfect' mummies and adorably 'average' children in 'wildly' implausible set-ups.
What I mean of course is that these ads depicted people shopping. Happily. As fucking if.

Not Trader Joe's. Ask me they're saying 'We don't take our look too seriously. You shouldn't either. Just look at the shit we sell, and if you want some, get some. ' And I like that.

It works. Almost 150, 000 people have deliberately gone looking to watch this three minute, lovingly assembled piece of flotsam. Over 300 EXTREMELY VALUABLE comments from people who care enough to write their opinions. And this is only on YouTube. If I go blogsearching, guaranteed I'll find a stack more commentary on this silly but likeable homemade homage to a brand's intangible something.

As David Armano says, the brand isn't what you say it is, it's what they say it is. In fact he explains better than I can what you should be doing about it. If you have any nous at all you have to be asking yourself, as you sit down to your monthly brand management meeting, how actually valid were those six ads you shot in South Africa two years ago, for the least Irish-looking young people having the least Irish-looking barbie with products in beautifully shot shopping bags and carrying your outsized logo.

Yes you know who you are. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Make the logo bigger

SO this one time at brand camp when I was in Yale Harvard college I came across the Nieman Journalism Lab. Basically a think tank for journalists (who are shitting themselves even more than ad agencies are, and trying defiantly to come up with ways that they can start getting paid again for doing what they do). Fair enough. Apart from the depth of shit that we're all standing in there isn't a huge amount of crossover, but this post caught my eye.

I thought I'd seen it all with the early nineties fixation on subliminal messaging. Remember, do ya do ya? When sneaky advertisers snuck in a frame or two of brainwashy secret messages and logos and we all went out and bought Foster Grants or Cinzano or whatever the fuck it was? Or maybe that was just me. Anyways, it reached an apotheosis of sorts with David Fincher's Figh7 C7ub. Brad Pitt™ appeared for a frame here and there and ... man, is that film really ten years old? That is depressing the shit out of me. Ten fucking gloriously wasted years, and that punk Pitt still has that physi- Wait, where was I?

Ah yes. Finally, tired old hack that I am, I find Madvertising. Crazy name, crazy guys. Here's what the Harvard Tefalheads at the journalism 'lab' say about it:
At the start of each commercial break, instead of going straight to an ad, there’s a five-second title card displaying some fact about the advertiser — typically, a fact about its past or present advertising campaigns. Sample title cards: “Prescription drugs could not be advertised on television in the United States until 1997,” just before a drug ad. Or “Heineken was the first imported beer in America after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933,” just before (you guessed it) a Heineken ad. It grabs you for an instant, just at the moment when you’re doing to get a drink or head to the bathroom. And it makes you pay at least a little attention to the ad. As an AMC exec told Variety, “That’s AMC’s ‘dirty little secret’…You’re not blowing through the commercial. You’re thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’
I have no real idea what 'blowing through the commercial' might mean. Well, the ideas I have do not pertain to what I personally might be doing, but until I hear Damien Dempsey rapping about it in a way tharr Oi can understandh, I'll just lay it down to Californian craziness.

Ok, I'm getting bored plundering this article now so you can go and read it yourselves. It has a bit of relevance, inasmuch as (I'm never really sure why 'inasmuch as' looks ok, but 'inasmuchas' looks totally ridiculous) I never would've predicted that a frigging five second test card (which UTV probably still run - it certainly feels as though they do. Let us know, media-snorting junkies) could be the height of subversive sophistication.

Lookid, I love you so much that I went out digging in the permafrost and found this, all the way from 1986. If it doesn't leave a lump in your spitoon then you're no contemporary of mine. Pure priceless, and the test cards, now that I look at them, are without doubt the most invidiously cunning brand placement this fragile mind could conceive of. At least it proves that some of our most famous voiceover artists were, in fact, never young at any time.

If nothing else, it's comforting to know, on Darwin's would-be 200th birthday, that we have crested over the apex and are now full steam reverse to the bendy-backed fuckers we used to be. Subliminal frames spliced into our Odlum's Oats ads were a hoot while they lasted (although nobody really noticed, did they?) but now we're back to frigging test cards. And tonight that is surely apt, for this regression mirrors my vapid soul, dear readers. I was erectus when I started writing this, but somehow I have withered.

(And forgive the regression on the language. It may be a lunar cycle or some such shit. Normal polite service will resume whenever the fuck I feel like it. And the Odlum's thing was a joke, ok?)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Monday's adlinks

The truth does not lie:

Big Brother is watching:
Got a smartphone? Google's Latitude brings you - and an increasingly heated privacy debate - into the spotlight. Media Guardian reports (with a tutorial from Google)

Healthy breakfast? Er, I don't think so Mr Kellogg.

The R word again. It's a shit shit time, but Bloom earn big respect for not fronting about it.

Five year old Facebook a fad? Rhodri Marsden finds out.

Twitter uptake still surging, but what to do with it?

Ten smart brands using smart social media.

Started using your GMail labels yet? They're shockin' handy. But why so long in coming?

Don't dis my Patty, punk!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Start your own upswing

A mindset is a terrible heavy thing, maan. It's that word set. It's like concrete. It no bendy. Need a lumphammer to change its mind. Never pretty.

How often have you heard your clients being described as completely stupid fucking idiots? How often have you described them that way yourself? I have, plenty. On occasion I have posited the lofty assertion that they wouldn't know a good idea if it wore a Good Idea t-shirt and bit a tattoo with its sharp little teeth on their idiot arses saying This is a Good Idea.

They're not idiots. And in the main we're not smarter, better, more informed, more articulate or more in tune with the consumer zeitgeist. We just operate in a narrower frame of view. Clients care this much for our peer-to-peer love affair with little statues. Which of course is like a constant grain of sand in our high performance gearboxes.

Clients care for shifting units. Marketing 101. Always have. Never pretended not to. It's why you don't get to see the client's top brass very often. Not even when you're pitching for €10 million worth of their business. Big picture relevance. And so predictably, somewhere along the line, the idea of an us and a them became entrenched. Set. It's tribal and it's petty and it's human nature but right now, with traditional agencies shedding people like confetti, it's an attitude none of us can afford to hang on to.

Clients need to sell more than ever, and they need us less and less to do it, truth be told. As far as we ought to be concerned, there are other metrics that tell the story with a lot more clarity, and we've been too snobbish to learn how to read them. Former Forrester researcher Peter Kim estimated that marketers gave their ad agencies a Net Promoter Score of -21%. That means not very good things.

And now a pleasing interlude with some questions. Be blunt with your answers. You're only talking to you.

  • Do you embrace your client's ethos?
  • Do you actually understand their most pressing needs?
  • Do you honestly know how they rate you?
  • Would they recommend you to another non-competing client?
  • Did you - do you - deliver on your pre-election promises?
  • Are you embracing new media on their behalf?
  • Are you proactive in finding ways to make those media work for your clients?
  • Does the work you deliver come from a team mindset, or is it more often cobbled together to make it over the line?

It has been a shitty week or two for many agencies in Dublin. Redundancies have become a repeat reality. 20% pay cuts, some people down to half-time.

The fact that social media happen to be around right now, making some noise in a refined and highly measureable format, might be considered as rotten luck from one perspective. It is an ill omen for traditional ATL agencies, but only if they flat-out refuse to embrace new opportunities. Clients in the main are recognising that turning the tap off is a very limited short-term solution. The smarter ones are restructuring their communications matrices, and ATL is feeling the lumphammer. But clients are not the enemy. They never have been. They have a wider set of needs than most agencies traditionally see or care to grasp. Sorry to all those 70s heyday Dublin admen: Life on Mars doesn't exist any more. Answerability is everywhere, and the multinational model applies.

But this is an opportunity! Several hungry and lean organisations are out there right now delivering new, measureable options to clients. (Possibly your clients, particularly if you do some work for the larger ones who now love to spread the love.) In my own experience, some of these have started to spend more on their digital reach. Not a betting man, but I'd wager that it's still nowhere near as much as they're chopping from their trad spend on ATL.

Meh. Pessimism is all well and good when things are going well for you. It's about as much use as a bull's tit the rest of the time. Tough times make for tough blah blah blah.

The question quickly becomes how much of a team player you can be alongside your client. Can you state the difficult truths? Will you settle for hanging on while the tap drips something, anything, a 40" corporate branding ad plus three 20" cutdowns every other year? It'll do! We'll take it!! WE'LL TAKE IT!!!

Or will you adopt the model that consumers are already using so adroitly? Will you actually engage with your clients in a two-way conversation that leaves no room for doubt?

Like Jesus distilling the ten commandments into 1. Respect the Chief, and 2. Do unto Others, distil all of the shit that's going on right now into a single, positive focus, and share it with your clients, and begin the process of them sharing it with consumers. The future gets brighter that way.

This rant inspired by FutureLab's Alain Thys & Stefan Kolle, with particular reference to their report RECONSIDERING THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY. Want a copy? Just say so.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Monday Adlinks

Discounts available as ad spending plummets.
You. Don't. Say.

'PR must be a player in online world.'
Is Bespoke Comms' Neil O'Gorman falling under the spell of the Collision Course?

Not since 2003 have our neighbours to the east been watching more TV - now at 26 hrs per week in the UK.

Corporate sponsorship set to rise despite the gloom, says the IT. Yahooey.

Oh yeah, and Facebook wants to sell your stats.

Twitterers. Meeting. Partying. In the real world. For charidee. There'll be four djs too. I guess the Twits could do this from home, or the bus, or the chip shop, but hey, it's nice to meet. More info at the Dublin Twestival site here.