Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yes we Cannes!

The last few days have been some of the most intense in my career to date.

We arrived in Cannes on Saturday afternoon after 30 hours of travelling. Needless to say we were pretty tired. After a small mishap with Matt & Ara's share room (mishap = 1 bed) we ventured off to the old town for dinner.

On Sunday afternoon we were briefed for our Young Lions Media competition. Caroline Hurford from the United Nations World Food Programme delivered the brief, which was to use the current "Fill The Cup" creative concept to drive awareness of the WFP and to raise money to help feed 59 million hungry people throughout the world.

Caroline's delivery of the brief was amazing. It was so passionate and inspiring that we left the room with an ambition over and above winning the competition but to deliver something that would truly help the client achieve their goals.

Answering the brief wasn't easy. We spent six hours generating ideas, researching the client and crafting a core thought.... only to go to bed unsatisfied and stressed. We woke up early and over breakfast hardly spoke. The atmosphere was one of greyness. While we had a decent, very safe idea ready to work up, we knew that it wasn't a winner.

We wandered downstairs and met Matt & Ara. As we were discussing our dilemma, Matt started ranting on about how much he hates five cent coins. His diatribe led us to our Big Idea.
We realised that given the tough economic times people don't have spare money to give to charities but everyone does have spare change. Not change that you might use for the parking meter or Coke machine but change so small it is practically worthless. It sits in a jar on the top of your fridge collecting dust - it has no purpose.

So the strategy: Abolish the Penny. It was all about people forming a movement to eradicate the smallest unit of currency in their country and donate it to the WFP.

We were really proud of our idea. We knew it was strong but we also knew that there was tough competition in our category.

After presenting at 9.30am we had to wait six and a half hours for the announcement of the winner. As we waited we were told that the judges were still deliberating which delayed the announcement by an hour and a half. It was incredibly nerve wracking.

When we were finally let into the screening room for the announcement, Bronze (USA) and Silver (Belarus) were announced. As Bonnie (one of the judges) started to describe the winning strategy I knew it was ours but hearing her officially announce it was amazing.

As we made our way to the front of the room we felt like celebrities. We were pounced on by journalists and had around ten cameras shoved in our faces. It was just incredible.

Following the 'hollywood style' mayhem we raced back to our hotel and quickly got ready for the presentation. Matt & Ara were snuck in the back door and were able to share our special moment with us. Everything just fell into place.

The rest of the night is a bit of a blur. I had complete strangers approaching me to say how proud they were and happy for us. Dave Droga (of Droga 5) said he wanted me to come and work for him. Henry, my CEO was bursting with pride and presented us with a nice stimulus package. It was just completely overwhelming.

When I finally sat down at 3am my body involuntarily shutdown. I couldn't keep my eyes open which signalled it was time for bed.

A night's rest didn't do much to make this amazing experience anymore real though. I am still trying to come to terms with what this all means and can't wait to get home and share it with everyone..... well not get home too quick!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


When you are traveling for 30+ hours you have a lot of time to think.  Now I've done this long-distance, moisture sucking, patience deteriorating kind of trip before but I've never noticed a very unique thing that occurred to me this time around.

I came down with a bout of twitterexia.  I found myself observing my surroundings and feeling distraught by the fact that from 30,000 miles high, I couldn't micro-blog about it.  It made me realise that twitter has filled a gap in my life that I didn't even realise I had - it makes me feel like I'm being heard.

What I mean by this is that of the modest 100 or so people following me, while they may or may not consistently read my tweets and therein pay varying levels of attention to them, I do feel like I have a voice.  And moreover, a voice that can say whatever it wants with the buffer of 'real life' distance staying in tact.

For instance, on the KL to Amsterdam leg of my trip Cannes, I was sat next to a women whom I now hold anything but fond memories of.  She invaded my space for some 12 hours, huffed & puffed everytime I needed to scoot past her and did not let me use the shared armrest once!  Small grievances I admit but on a 12 hour flight, grievances that became increasingly irritating.

So there I was thinking about all the things one may implement to make their long haul trip more enjoyable (assuming they're like me and the business class option is out of reach).  The problem with arriving at such genius mid flight was that I couldn't easily share my ideas.  I kept whispering into my boyfriend's ear but with real fear that initial said woman would hear what I was saying and sock me one.   It was also annoying for my boyfriend because as my tired brain spewed out more words of wisdom, I kept interrupting what he was doing.

The beauty of twitter is that you can expel your thoughts in real-time and receive instant gratification for 'getting them off your chest' but people can choose to digest them in their time.

I don't remember the first time I felt naked without my mobile phone but this new feeling of nakedness sans-twitter will be memorable (if only for the fact that I'm blogging about it) and it opens up a whole new list of questions about the application - what is correct twitter ettiquette?  Should I log all of my missed tweets at once or will this needlessly clog up my followers' feeds... but then what about the fact that they've missed out on my tweets for the last 24hrs?  So much confusion and so few rules to guide me along the way.    

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Twikini in my eye!

At Christmas my beautiful boyfriend Matt gave me a HTC-Touch Pro windows mobile. Unfortunately, I am crap at using it. I spend ages seraching for cool apps and I don't understand why I can't find them more easily.

About 3 weeks ago I downloaded Twikini. It is a very user friendly Twitter application that sits exactly where I want it on my phone and looks just like the desktop twitter interface that I am used to.

I loved using it... then the trial expired. Since then, I have been searching for a replacement and haven't been able to find anything that I like as much. I jumped back on to the twikini site and found an option that made the app even more appealing..... the ability to access it for free if I blogged about it - very cool.

A sign of the times

If you haven't seen the coverage of the Iran elections then you've either been under a rock or working too late to see the news.

Over night, something evry interesting happened. The US Government asked Twitter to move sechedulled maintenance so as to not interrupt real-time coverage of the election. Given that many journalists and media outlets have been banned from the nation, international news bureaus are now turning to social media tools to keep the rest of the world informed on the events.

This is a clear sign of the times. Full credit to the US Government for recognising the value of social media and its applications outside of 'social networking'.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anybody looking for a living, breathing billboard?

This is a really cool execution that could work for many brands.

It is a year long fundraising project for the Akanksha Foundation where a girl had pledged to wear the same dress for 365 days. Whilst raising funds for her chosen charity, she is dually promoting sustainable fashion.

Here?s how it works: There are 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day she will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accouterments, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies.

The opportunities for brands are inumerable.

FMCG - over 12 months fabric will be subjected to wear and tear. What if a washing powder sponsored her to demonstrate their clothing preservation abilities?

Fashion - the subject is looking for accessories, other clothing items, shoes, and inspiration to 'dress up' the dress. Donations are accepted. What if she was used as a model to launch a new season's range?

Technology - she's blogging, tweeting and flickering. Why not jump on board as a service provider and give her free access or the technology to be social?

I think this concept is brilliant and I'll be interested to see if anybody does jump on her bandwagon and exploit the endless possibilities that she as a living, breathing billboard (complete with CSR initiative) has to offer.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Netizens with a God complex

A few days ago I posted a blog about netizens positioning themselves as god.  Then just this morning, I came across an article about "Search &(Destroy) Engines".  It is really scary.

The article talks about what I was discussing a few days ago - the broader public taking justice into their own hands.  Whilst there are references in the article to some entirely immoral, unethical and frankly inhumane acts that, in retribution, have suffered at the hands (or clicks??) of the global society, I still have an issue with justifying this new millenium version of lynch mobs.

My issue is not with justice being brought to these people.  Their actions are inexcusable and they deserve to be punished.  However, punishment decided by and brought about via the masses reeks of uncontrollable hysteria.  

Unlike the lynch mobs of yesteryear, the result of this cyber-retaliation is not necessarily death.  That is, by the hands of others.  I would argue that public retaliation on these individuals will drive them to take their own lives and this brings me back to my original point - who died and made the netizens God?

I am all for the borderless society that the Internet affords us but I am now wondering who should be controlling the uncontrolled?  And further, is it the instant fame or notoriety that motivates people to do the unspeakable and then post videos online? 
As you can tell I'm somewhat baffled by this trend and I don't know what the answer is.  What I do know is that the future is clearer in the rearview mirror and we should be looking back to the 18th Century to see where this current bout of God-complexes is going to lead us. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Smashingly Simple

This is a really cool literal interpretation of a brand.

It is for the launch of a new video game, Red Faction, in which smashing things with a sledgehammer accounts for a vast majority of the fun to be had.

The agency took this and literally interpretated it by placing a car full of the game and a sledgehammer on the street then let nature take its course.

Goes to show that simple works.

Check it out here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do unto others...

People who have "public" jobs must expect that their personal lives will be thrust into the limelight at some point. Whether this is right or wrong is not to be contested (at least without a bottle of wine and a chairman to oversee proceedings). We must just accept that it is a fact of life in this new borderless world we live in.

What I do think is interesting is the effect it seems to be having on higher moral ground. The fact that people think they have permission to persecute those that they, in their personal opinion, consider to have done something wrong.

This week we've seen a couple of cases of people taking advantage of their media nouce for personal gain.
1. Gordon Ramsey V Tracey Grimshaw
2. Woman's Day V Therese Rein

Now everyone has a different opinion on both cases. What I think is most interesting is the third party that has entered into this battle. The blogger.

Today Crickey posted a blog challenging people to "out" Woman's Day editor Fiona Connelly.

By posting this blog, Crickey have basically given their readers permission to right a wrong... well in their opinion anyway.

Who died and made Crikey God?

Why should they be the ones controlling retribution for Therese Rein? And, didn't anybody stop and think that this blog and its associated sites have political undertones that could benefit from a glowing report from Ms Rein's influential hubby?

When bloggers start to assume positions as moral gatekeepers, who reigns (pardons the pun) them back in? Is this, like the private turning public, just a fact of life or are we seeing the fourth estate actaully rear its head and take a position of marshall law?

Personally, I think it's really scary. That someone (an influential blogger at that) would persecute someone else for just doing their job seems a bit archaic to me. Grow up and do unto others is my opinion....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Borrowed credibility gone too far

I was away sick yesterday which meant that between bouts of coughing and the consumption of antibiotics as big as horse tranquilisers, I dozed in front of the TV for most of the day.

This also meant I was privy to a lot of daytime advertising.... and I observed something interesting.

We are all familiar with Brand Power and Zoot Review. These 'endorsement' style interstitials have been around for a long time and have proven quite successful for many FMCG brands. What I noticed yesterday thoguh is that the Australian Women's Weekly now broadcast similar ads on not just Nine, but also Channel 7 and Ten. In fact with only one ad in between, I saw an AWW endorsed spot followed by an Infocus Segment (Ch7's version) and both of these were within the New Idea program.

This posed a few questions for me:
1. Were the drugs making me dellusional? (a quick referral to the EPG proved no)
2. Why were SMG Red and Ten allowing AWW to endorse products on their channels? Are they desperate for ad revenue?
3. Don't the traffic team notice that such clashes exist and that clients may not be happy about it?
4. What does this mean for the credibility of the 'endorsed' interstitial? Will their cut-through diminish? Will their trustworthiness decline?

It all seems a bit odd to me. The beauty of borrowed credibility is that it is usually somewhat exclusive. What I saw yesterday was a slap in the face for both advertisers and consumers. The endorsement seemed obviously paid for and entirely fake given the proximity to similar ads.

Whilst in the past I have been an advocate of this style of ad for my clients after yesterday's experience, I won't be recommending 'endorsed' interstitials for my clients anytime soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

iSpyLevis being even smarter

A few weeks ago I blogged about the iSpyLevis campaign currently running on Twitter. I just wanted to update my opinions on this campaign.

It is brilliant.

The comms team are capitalizing on the fact that their follower base has multiplied by 400% in a matter of weeks and that people are going to great lengths to interract with the brand.

Their latest Tweet: iSpyLevis: PEOPLE! We've got 501 followers. Follower number 568 will get a pair of 568® SKINNYS IN RESIN SEALED. Tell your friends! Demonstrates how they are taking this campaign even further. I guarntee that they are hitting all client objectives.

I am still trying my hardest to get a pair (after securing a pair for my friend last week). The 'game' is completely addictive. I can only hope that I can produce a piece of similar brilliance for one of my clients!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yes he can

President Obama is rewriting the rules for marketing. The brand that he has built himself is solid, approachable and desireable.

Yes, he is lucky to be so attractive. Yes, he has his communication skills down pat and Yes, he has an army of staff behind him to help him reach great heights. The truly admirable thing that he does however, is reach out to people and make it easy for them to join a conversation with him.

Let's be clear, it is unlikely that Barrack is the one responding to tweets, facebook messages, myspace posts or emails but, the image he porjects is one of accessibility. He makes people feel like he is within their reach and that he will act upon their suggestions. He listens to what people want to hear and then tells them what they want to hear.

So with all of this in mind, it is unsurprising that the speech he will deliver on bridging the gap between the U.S. and the Muslim world in Cairo will be accesible via all of his previous touchpoints but also via SMS.

What this means is that he has even further broken down the barriers between himself and the wider world. He is making himself available to not only American voters but global citizens who may or may not be living in nations with restrictions on the information they can access.

President Obama should be applauded for his brand building efforts and his consistency. If other brands operated in a similar fashion to him - remained on-strategy and single minded about their image - I would argue that they could feel more confident about entering a conversation with consumers and as such would have greater success in winning over consumers and building brand loyalty.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sex still sells

Sometimes it feels like the world is moving really quickly.

In the media-sphere it is difficult to keep up with the latest advancements and to think of ways they will fit into your client's marketing plans, particualrly when many clients are still addicted to TV and think that tweet is a sound that birds make.

One trend that I have noticed lately though, is that no matter what the medium, sex still sells.

Check out this Tweet from earlier today:

The goodsex hashtag is currently trending #1.

I find this really interesting because just last week, hashtag 3words (aftre sex) was incredibly popular.

If i were in the business of selling sex, safe sex or sex-related products (ie condoms, lubricant.. let your imagination run wild) I would be harnessing the information coming from these tags.

Given the popularity of these two organic tags, as a sex brand, why wouldn't you initiate a new trending topic equally as topical but backed by your brand? It would generate a significant amount of online chatter and also serve as a rich source of information for NPD.

So perhaps this can work for other brands too or even just as a source of ideas for us to take to clients. By tracking trends on social networks that are related to our brands we can beat the client to the next idea and even start to predict the outcomes of qual research.

Now the next challenge, who do we conivince others to believe in the power of this?

Monday, June 1, 2009

And because of that came my steepest learning curve since the age of 0-3....

Upon joining bellamyhayden I had no idea how much I was about to learn. I was surrounded by brilliant people, in a hardworking office and seemed to learn by osmosis.

It confirmed to me that it actually didn't matter where I worked because it was the calibre of people that I surrounded myself with that would impact the qaulity of my output.

During my time at bellamyhayden I made lifelong friends, won my first media award and was inspired to never do less than my best.

It was at this point in my life that UM approached me with an interesting job offer.