Sunday, August 30, 2009

Essential for the ad person who carries an iPhone

Thanks to the other Adland over at Adweek. Howdy David.

Solidarity with small businesses during the recession

My favourite word this week is traction. Not just the sound of it, but all the associations of solidity and grip and realness. Three quarters of it is action.
Here's one from Brand Ireland that encourages it and is very much in tune with the zeitgeist, a practical yet romantic German word that English has no equivalent for.
Ok, etymology lesson over. Go see that Brand Ireland fella's post for more of this:
So, what I had in mind was the coming together (solidarity) of a range of professionals in the areas of Marketing & PR to offer some free expertise to small businesses or a chosen business in an effort ‘revolutionise’ their brand and create some buzz for their business. This grouping could act as a full service agency for the chosen brand for an agreed period of time in an effort to bring the business or brand to the next level and then hand back the reins.

Interesting. Hands-on pro bono marketing help from people on the inside. Tricky to organise, I'd imagine, but an excellent idea. I'd certainly be willing to devote some time to the concept.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Peperami where it belongs: in the hands of the fans.

It came off the back of a generation of Young Ones fans. It traded irreverence and honesty with a nod to bovver boys and Millwall fans. It was the irrepressible Peperami and it was, it assured us with carefully considered nonchalance, a bit of an animal.

Wishing to get it back is a futile exercise, because its relevance owed everything to its time. So instead, Unilever puts a Doc Marten sole up its wotsits and boots it right into the 2009s. You want Peperami? You do the work.

Ten kay sterling is the prize for coming up with their new ad. Believe me, the agency responsible for the initial success all those 16 count-em years ago, Lowe, would've charged more by a factor of ten at the very minimum for it, but now it's open to the public. I'm still utterly undecided about that fab creation of the new century, crowdsourcing, but Unilever, like some giant colossus, has disregarded my indecision and invited Joe Public to take the brand to the next level. Smart move.

Here's Marketing Week's take on it.
And Campaign.
The Guardian.

Ok, bored now giving other people's opinions. Here's mine, as your benign but don't-brook-me-no-shit-nonetheless ruler at this blog.

Clever move by Unilever. Bound to attract a lot of attention, 97% of which will be shit that they'd skin and hide the agency for, but since it'll be free, right up to the point where they give some sap a pittance for a wealth of free publicity and an ad campaign to boot, they'll be full of spicy, thirst-inducing glee. It'll re-energise an absolutely maniacal classic of an ad creation and it'll shift a frankly perverse product by the cartload.

Interested? Hop on the meatwagon here at crowdsourcing central (Ugh. Just decided I dislike the idea.) Idea Bounty and who knows? It could be you, up to your gonads in over-salted animal remnant.

Excellent opportunity to express the profound and incalculable loss of the legend that was John Peel and the slightly less well known but nonetheless regrettable passing of that beloved sot of the marketing world, Assistant to the Brand Manager.

Ni bhéidh a leithid ann arís.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adland jobspot

Some jobseeker opportunities for web-minded marketers.

OgilvyOne are on the lookout for a Digital Project Manager for a three month initial contract. They say
Ideally you will come form an agency background, either from the client or project-management side, with a foundation in digital marketing delivery. Specifically you will be responsible one large blue chip client and a number of websites being developed.
Full spec here. Contact before Sept 15.

Cybercom have a position vacant for an Account Manager.
Experience in Social Media, Online PR and Online Advertising is a must while a detailed understanding of the other digital vehicles is required. The successful candidate will most likely be an Account Manager in another digital agency with the ability to work to tight deadlines, handle pressure and thrive in a multi-task environment.

Email your interest to Rob Reid

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lovely, dark and deep

Snot all that bad, missus.

I’ll tell you exactly when we got lost. It was that moment in the woods, somewhere around Burkittsville, when that stupid Michael Williams kicked the stupid map into the river. Up until then we were all humming along just fine. Day followed night and post followed pre and all was good. Then in July of ’99 Artisan released a lo-tech, DIY home movie called The Blair Witch Project. Biggest box office sales-to-production cost in American filmmaking history.

They threw away the map.

The internet was there already, of course, in an increasing number of workday lives. It wasn’t quite the chattering, listening, helpful, I-hear-you place of consumer gratification that it is now but that didn’t stop the producers of The Blair Witch Project from realising what a mighty opportunity it gave them. They invented a myth about an Irish witch in Maryland, they peddled it for gospel in a documentary that they’d made for potential investors, and when it got people talking they shot that ‘new truth’ directly into the bloodstream of young Americans with this fabulous internet thing before they ever released a print. Ker-ching. The fact that they’d spent two years inventing a centuries-old myth and then turned it into the biggest no-budget marketing success ever via the web was a delicious whammy that none of us even copped until the dust settled and the numbers were in.

That was then. Internetland has changed dramatically since. It’s not a place where you just observe any more. Engagement is key now. You contribute. Snakes on a Plane? This is a basic that hasn’t been grasped by a lot of Irish marketers yet. Since 2005, YouTube has allowed anyone to upload their content, and anyone else to watch it. It’s incredibly user friendly. No strings of code or fancy algorithms necessary. If you’ve got some rubber bands, a toilet roll tube and a magnifying glass you can probably do it. And if you’ve got something that others want to watch, they will. And if you’d invented simple, straightforward cut-and-paste YouTube, how pleased would you have been when Google came knocking a year and a half later, waving a cheque for $1.65 billion? If Google want what you do, you can bet that you’re doing something that has a future.

There are stacks of success stories that made it because of engagement on social sites. People like Lauren Luke. An ordinary girl from Newcastle with an instantly homey appeal, she’s built a business from telling girls all over the globe what eye make-up will suit them, and how to put it on. Tens of millions of views of her practical demos on YouTube. It’s not my particular thing, believe it or not, but it neatly demonstrates the two-way nature of new media. The people who watch will comment, tell her publicly what it means for them and will viral that all-important word of mouth. Lauren’s rise has been stellar. She’s the definition of commercial success in a new reality. It’s even allowed her to start a column in the olde worlde media too, via The Guardian's Saturday Weekend mag. How quaint!

The essence of the change in consumer internet use since the dotcom bomb of 2000 relates to its unmistakably human conversational nature. People watch, but they also shoot and record and write and post so that others may watch them. They interact. They join chat forums relating to every conceivable topic, because they want to and they can. They take part, they blog, they post photos and silly comments on their friends’ snaps. They’re on Facebook (half a million Irish accounts) (Update! Almost a million now!) and Bebo (over a million there, kids) and Flickr,, Vimeo, Twitter and a slew of other places where news, good and bad, is shared instantly. They form interest groups that can bring causes to wider attention. They rate hotels, schools, cars and restaurants. They write poetry. They have Kawasaki motorcycle clubs, recipe-swopping sites and autism awareness groups for those affected by it. They have instant access to everything. They’re Web 2.0, and if you aren’t, well frankly my dear who gives a Steve Silvermint?

Access to new markets via social media is as democratic as it gets, and the impact of these new two-way platforms on traditional lines of message dissemination is hard to overstate. I mean really, really hard. It’s a massive warning to companies who see the web as something that doesn’t directly affect them. It directly affects everyone.

Everything has changed, yet ironically many people in offline communications, be it advertising, PR or entertainment, are failing to see how they’re marginalising their own power by not getting to grips with this conversation. They now absolutely need to talk to consumers and potential customers on behalf of their clients, and show that they are capable communicators in this new landscape, yet they have apparently no idea how to engage.

Coming from a very traditional marketing background, as an advertising copywriter now working online, I see this shortfall in understanding from agencies all the time. I’m puzzled as to whether it’s denial, fear or outright complacency, but it’s certainly there. One of the major issues is, naturally, money. Advertisers, accustomed to making a statement and having it pushed out there on sexy, big TV without much fear of contradiction, have no idea how to make money from new social media. They don’t often seem to understand the essential shift in communications platforms. They express their thinking in terms of making this new web thing retro-fit the old matrix. But putting a press execution or a 48-sheet onto a website as a banner ad does not represent an understanding of the model. ‘We’ll get it out there as a viral’ does not mean putting a tv ad online and commanding everyone to look at it. That does not work.

The rewards for agencies have been good up until recently. On the other hand the payback from blogging, tweeting, networking online, building microsites, going truly viral and harvesting as much information as possible about your consumers is hard work, especially compared to a one-off €750,000 shoot. But how many of them are happening in 2009/2010?

The R word is a given. Production is not going to rebound in the near future, and never again to the levels we’ve enjoyed until recently. Consolidation will remain a fancy term for eviscerating the marketing budget. I’d prefer to accentuate positivity instead, particularly since an understanding of the new models of marketing is essential if we’re to see any helpful or meaningful growth in the short to medium term. There are incredible new outlets for creativity. The tools are in everybody’s hands and those who prove themselves adept at getting out there will reap the rewards. Brands will still have to protect and project themselves in the digital sphere, and if PR and advertising agencies don’t learn how to do it, new entities will come along and do it for them. Several are already there, doing excellent work on much smaller budgets, and delivering measureability to clients that traditional agencies don’t even dream about. While the old schoolers are dropping the Nielsen ratings on their foot, the new kids are telling clients what their customers are eating for breakfast right now.

Advertisers and agencies have to watch their flanks as well as their rears, because the search engines and the technology are continually gaining ground and converging. Internet protocol tv is just a heartbeat away. Google is already a huge online ad agency with its AdWords, and it’s as near as dammit to being able to target readers with Minority Report-like precision. Phillip K. Dick thought that wouldn’t be around until 2054. Heh.

Even if you are utterly lost in the woods and freaking out right now, take comfort from the fact that you’re not the only one. And producers of quality content, both words and pictures, now have more channels than ever before to distribute their work. Illustrators, animators, actors, writers, directors, musicians, production teams and anyone else with creativity to offer will find streams to push their wares along. Cream will still have the joyously endearing habit of rising. And unlike the Blair Witch trio ten years ago, we’ve got Google Maps. Let’s go.

This post is an edited version of an article written for Film Ireland's July/August issue. Big thanks to a mighty digital media advocate, Cathal Gaffney at Brown Bag Films.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Things I lost. Things I found.

It is one year since I stopped coasting. One year since the luxury of not thinking was taken away from me. Professionally, that is. In matters of family and friends, the cogs were meshing away, but I had lost any pride in my work, had no sense of belonging to the core of the company and a vague sense that well, they just owed me because. The longevity defence.

But when WPP decided to pull the plug, the option of not thinking anymore was gone. I was suddenly Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. No, not that one. I got to be the blinky, slime-covered one, finally dumped from the pod of mental gloop and needing a serious power download into my skull.

In the intervening year I have stopped feeling stupid about shameless networking, because networking makes the world go round. It did before me. It will after me. It should be shameless. And in the process I have met some of the most brilliant, energised and focussed individuals. I use the word pointedly, because now I see how individuals can operate within the hive but without the hive mindset.

If I hadn't lost my job I could not have possibly found myself, because I was hiding behind the fucking thing. But I am never going to regret that, because that would be wasting more now, and my now has way too much great stuff in it, because I lost my job. Funny old life.

I have no fear of recession, because I know how rich we are as a country. But I do get upset for those losing their jobs, because it's a terrifying step off a cliff. I feel (a bit) sad for the hive minds, because I haven't quite forgotten the mindless comfort of it. I get infuriated with the 'Nothing to do with me' legions operating within our vast and sluggish civil service/semi-state marshes. And by fuck are there plenty, still sucking at the full-cream tit with no regard for those who cannot, hung up on scales and benefits and grades and petty competition and living a daily obsolescence. A friend of mine has just been fortunate enough to get a contract with one of these government services. One we all know. She came from the real world. In Week 1 she was told three times that 'this isn't a performance-based company like your last one.' You know what? I believe that they believe that. And something else? They are terribly wrong to think that way, because nothing is too big to fall.

Okay, spleen vented. What actually prompted it all was this Slideshare presentation by Charlie Hoehn. It's his guide to getting any job you want within a year of finishing college. It has such wisdom, foresight and level-headedness from one so young that I can only sit back and applaud him. The prick. When I think of how I wasted my twenties. Aah, maybe he'll screw up his forties and the karmic wheel will trundle along nicely.

Can't see it somehow.

Discovered via the equally was-probably-always-together Seth Godin.

And and and. You know who you are. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A crash course in social media from Simply Zesty

New kids on the online pr/socmeej block, Simply Zesty (founded by the tireless twins Niall Harbison and Lauren Fisher), are presenting a Summer Camp on various topics at the business/social media convergence point. It happens on August 27th at The Church on Mary Street, D1.

In their own words:
The aim of our course is to give you an overview of the free tools available in social media that enable you to reach your customers in new ways online. We’ve got a great lineup of speakers, including Philip Macartney from Bebo, Conall McDevitt from Weber Shandwick and natural search guru Alastair McDermott from Website Doctor. We’ve also got a great panel of bloggers and journalists who are active and influential in the social media space. They will be there to answer your questions on how you can reach your customers online, with first hand experience.
There's enough talent lined up on the day to sort the spam and the specious from the socially smart, and there are worse ways to spend less than a hundred quid.

Happily they don't promise to make social media gurus out of attendees, which is great and probably spares me hefty jail time, because it's my Manchurian Candidate trigger term. The other one, if you ever want to see me descend into a seething frenzy of spittle and (other people's) bone shards, is 'coach' when applied to anything other than sports fields and modes of transport.

Yes, it's my problem, according to the analyst. I know. Don't blame yourselves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Facebook juggernaut rolls on

Image cred Bobbi L. Newman

Facebook has officially got over 900,000 Irish users. Seems like only a few months ago when I wrote that the social networking giant was just cresting 600k users here in Ireland. No, wait... oh, right. Getcha.
Anyway, a short while since it revamped its streaming updates to give itself a Twitterlike vibe (albeit a fattened out one, but even there it's decided to challenge little old Twitter) it seems to have aped the American experience here and taken off with a huge chunk of the middle of the market, attracting people at the mature end of the mouse spectrum who are suddenly realising how it can bind them closer to their friend diaspora. If you don't think that this matters beyond thinking 'aah, that's nice for them' then you need to consider what your clients may think of it all. A recent post here about the effect of socmeej on brand recognition for Sandtex demonstrates quite forcefully that when it comes to the potency of these types of vehicle for your brand, you can ignore them but you cannot afford to for long. More soon on that one, and some overviews on recent work by Coca Cola brands to follow.
But I digress. Facebook. Ireland. Numbers. Gone are the days of above the line, below the line, through the line, online, offline... it's WFL? as far as I'm concerned. Damien Mulley wrote about the numbers here. Good idea to see the breakdown. Not because you can now poke your mother in law either. Mulleybite:

So right now the stats:

  • 905,980 people in Ireland are now on Facebook. In January there were just over 400k.
  • 612,380 people are age 25 and older – 67%
  • 399,440 people are age 30 and older – 44%
  • 134,660 people are age 40 and older – 14%

It's a big zeitgeisty monster now. Question that brands should ponder is how, when and why it can be useful for them. It's far from universally applicable for every brand, but it simply has to be on the rota of considerations.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I have been away but now I am back and I will shortly have many interesting things to say about many other interesting things of interest to people who, like me, are interested in interesting things. Interesting people.

Monday, August 3, 2009


It's not a new drum beat or anything. The tectonic crockery of marketing has been jiggling across the table for the lifespan of a whole Lady Gaga by this stage. We've been seeing it even here, in the forgotten Irish spiral of cyberspace, where brands like Barry's and even Sandtex (a masonry paint fer cri yi yi, but more on that later) have been absorbing this notion that brands are actually free to talk to people, rather than at them. Liberating in a way, like taking a punt on Tubridy as master of the country's moral compass. Anyway, here are some lovely slides by that nice Paul Isakson man. Isn't he the guy that did the Twin Peaks music?