Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mark Fennell V TV Station idents - a nice piece of Australian TV nostalgia

Thanks to my friend Rosey for pointing me to this nice review on TV station promos.

I love it.

Social media measurement... for FREE

Here is a very cool tool.

If your social media expert is too busy to help you out or, if your client is too poor to pay for buzzmetrics or radian6 dazzle them with a quick run on Social Mention.

It is a very simple tool that allows you to type in a brand name and search in real time across a range of social media for where it has been mentioned.

This is what they say about themselves:

Social Mention is a social media search platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information.

It allows you to easily track what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web's social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 80+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.

Social Mention currently provides a point-in-time social media search and analysis service, daily social media alerts, and a third-party API.

Of course, being free the tool does have some limitations. The first time I used it, it worked pretty quickly but since has seemed a little slow. Also, currently you can only search 'universally' not by region.

This said, I still think it useful for showing clients the volume of chatter that is occurring about their brand and also to track trends on specific subjects.

OMG: a conversation starter!

Last week I read the review of this ad on Campaign Brief but for whatever reason, I didn't watch it. Last night after a long day at work I sat down to watch a bit of TV before heading to bed, and was pleasantly suprised viewing it.

I caught it about 4 seconds in, which meant I missed the "Hey Jesus" voicover at the start but was engaged for the remaining 26 seconds by of the playful music and pace at which the images were flashing up on screen.

The visuals made me somewhat nostaligic for the first days of the school year when I would lovingly collage my new folder with snippets of pop-culture that inspired me.

I do wonder though if this ad is a case of over promising, under delivering. I find it very hard to believe that if I actually followed through on what the ad is asking me to do and search for more about Jesus, that I would be met with the upbeat, youthful environ that the ad portrays.

Irresepective, I do believe that in an era where Jesus equals Madonna's latests squeeze, the well rounded campaign (I've seen grassroots activity EVERYWHERE) does a good job of getting people to reconsider faith and the things that are important in life.

Even if it doesn't succeed in getting people to reinvent their beliefs, it is a nice conversation starter.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Incomplete Ad

Here is a really cool print execution for the Uruguay Lynx equivelant, Axe.

As you can see, the ad appeared in print with white squares over the girl's 'naughty bits'. The aesthetics of the ad make it eye-catching enough to engage the reader to search for why it appears the way it does.

Upon searching the reader finds copy pointing the reader to text AXE to 2345 after 9 pm. After doing so the reader recieves a bounceback with an image to be placed over the existing ad. This completes the experience.

It is a really simple but smart way to intrigue the reader and create an experience memorable enough to share.

Pimp by colour

This is a really cool tool that allows you to search for images based on colour.
You click the colour on the left-hand panel and it searches flickr for matching images. You can add colours for combination images.
Simple but smart.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Being grateful

I started today feeling glum.

Not for any reason in particular but just very close to snapping for no reason at all.

Its now the end of the day and i have thought of a list of things for which I'm grateful.

  1. I'm grateful for having found the ying to my yang.
  2. I'm grateful that I don't have to compete in the dating world with the lithe, eagerly fashionable, young things that surround me.
  3. I'm grateful that I am working in a job that allows for both brilliance & balance.
  4. I am grateful that I have never been & never will be dumped via some form of digital technology.
  5. I am grateful that despite having gone through my fair share the lonliness, hurt & false bravado of a break-up it will never haunt me again.
  6. I am grateful for the 3pm smile that I brought to the face of a stressed co-worker upon delivery of some free Gelatissimo.
  7. I am grateful to the guy who gave me his copy of Cleo because I missed out.
  8. I'm grateful that I don't have a squeakily annoying voice or a booming aggressive one.
  9. I'm grateful that the sun stayed up long enough for me to leave work in the light.
  10. I'm grateful for being able to share these thoughts.

I obviously have a bit of a theme going on here and I think it is about growing up.

As much as it still pains me to think of all the lonley & sad times I had during my teens & early 20's maybe all the self-help books are right - you can't truly appreciate how good things are until you've experienced the bad.

I just want to put it out there & thank the universe for bringing me Matt & also for helping me to see the wood from the trees.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quick Thinking = Smart Thinking

I love it when brands take advantage of topical issues.

We all saw Veet do it perfectly when President Bush was voted out of the hot seat in America but here is an example of a relatively 'boring' brand taking advantage of today's hot-topic, Kanye West's outburst at the MTV VMAs. It demonstrates how a brand can easily inject contextual relevance into a pre-planned media placement.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Multi-purpose toilet paper

I saw this on the Today Show this morning (which I now can't find online so you have to go by my written description) and found it both funny and interesting.

Apparently yesterday, due to its unique date 09.09.09, was a popular day for people to get married. I wasn't aware of this fact but someone at an Israeli toilet paper company was.
They commissioned local designers to make a series of wedding gowns from toilet paper.

As a topical stunt, I like this idea and am assuming that since it made the news in Australia, the client would be happy with the results but still, I wonder what the campaign was trying to communicate; strength? absorbancy? softness?

Maybe it was just to create awareness of the brand (locally I hope, as I can't actually can't find what brand it was for anywhere).
Either way, I'm impressed with the designs and the spectacle the promotion has created!

DWC: view as to how we mere mortals operate in your digital world

When the girls from DWC asked me to speak tonight I was initially daunted by the prospect.

I wondered why a group of digital experts would want to hear from someone who is less than an expert in the digital space.

But as I started to think about digital and how it affects my life I realised that perhaps what I had to offer you tonight, was a view as to how we mere mortals, operate in your digital world.

So for the next 10 minutes or so I’m going to offer my opinion on digital media wrapped up in the best experience of my career to date – winning a gold media lion in Cannes.

So first, a bit about me.

I started working in media in 2003. At the time I was studying International Communications at Macquarie Uni and had an overly ambitious boyfriend with both a medical and law degree earning the big bucks at Clayton Utz. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that the relationship was a tad too competitive and I entered into full time study and full time work to prove a point more than anything else.

Irrespective of how it began, I soon found that it was the right decision. Entry level positions in media are less than underwhelming in their scope and at best mundane in their job description. But what this completely packed year did, teach me good time management skills and how to multitask.

I stayed in my first job for 3 and a half years before realising that as a 25 year old, 50 hour working weeks and a $40K salary was not only unhealthy but somewhat of an insult so I packed up and headed to Europe backpacking.

When the year was up I applied for a position as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in Samoa. This position was described as a role that encouraged the sharing of skills between young professionals and local counterparts. The reality was it was incredibly tough.

At the end of the year I returned to Australia and joined bellamyhayden as a strategist. The people, particularly the women, who I met whilst working at bellamyhayden are some of the most influential and inspirational people in my working life. They constantly strive to be better than their best, are steady in their approach to work and above all are strong.

I now work at Universal McCann and am tasked with driving strategy at every stage of the communications process both within the agency and for a broad range of clients.

I am NOT a digital specialist but digital is part of everything I do. In fact this is the first key subject I want to address tonight; that in the communications industry, digital is all too often used as a noun rather than as an adjective.

Despite digital technologies proliferating almost every aspect of our lives, marketing and advertising people alike insist on referring to online communications as digital. Personally, I disagree with this use of the word. In fact, I see it as an insult to the opportunities that digital technology avails.

Digital technologies have unarguably changed the way we live our lives both as communications professionals and as consumers. I suggest that we would be hard pressed to find any person in the developed world who is not touched by a digital technology in some way or another each day.
What has been difficult for the communications industry is the speed at which digital technologies and thus online communications have progressed and availed themselves to consumers.

The result has been an array of specialist agencies employed to prop-up those ‘traditional’ agencies overwhelmed by advances in the online space.

This would be fine if digital was contained to online activity, but its not. We now have digital TV, digital radio, digital outdoor, digital mobile handsets… the list goes on. The point is that the necessary separation of online from offline during the nineties means that very few people are now geared up to deal with true cross platform campaigns that harness the power of digital both on and offline.

This is not to say that the work being produced at the moment is not fantastic, far from it, but unless communications professionals start to see digital as an adjective rather than a noun, moving forward they are likely to miss digital opportunities in offline media.

So, this is where my role as a strategist becomes important. I serve to bridge the gap between specialist online agencies and traditional agencies whilst trying to ensure everyone is across digital developments in both on and offline. But what complicates my job is the speed factor.

A good idea is no good to anyone if the competition executes it first and this is the problem with the speed of innovation in the digital world.

Speed to market and speed of response have become powerful competitive advantages for agencies and clients alike and for the person that links all of this together – the strategist – the ability to make quick but educated decisions has never been more important. As such we’ve started to see a trend towards fast strategy.

Richard Huntington who writes the blog adliterate put this well when he said;
“The days of the stereotypical strategist are over. The business world has little time for the desperately bright, painfully academic, socially inept and ponderous planner.”

And this became abundantly clear to me when I recently competed in the Young Lions competition in Cannes.

For those who aren’t aware, the Young Lions competition is part of the International Advertising Festival in Cannes. The festival celebrates the best creative work from around the globe and fittingly, the Young Lions competition is designed to unearth young, yet creative minds.

After being selected via a rigorous and competitive process in their home nation, pairs from each country are briefed by a charity to solve a communications problem. The teams are then given 24 hours to respond to the brief with less than ten slides in a maximum of five minutes.

There were three firm and fast things I took from this process and that I think are essential for effective fast strategy;
1- Play to your strengths
2- A big idea can come from anywhere
3- The best solution is a brave solution

Playing to your strengths is exactly what it sounds like and is something that creative teams have been doing for years in their art director/copywriter relationship.

Fast work requires confidence in your abilities and a very candid approach to working in a team. There is no room for egos and the ability to let go and trust your colleagues is essential.

For the Young Lions competition I was partnered with someone who had less than half of my professional experience, who had never actually written a strategy but who had a creative mind, natural charisma and artistic ability. With such a short amount of time to construct and sell in a strategy we had to concentrate on what we were individually good at. So I acted out the business role while Tristan was the trustworthy guy next door. It worked well for us and ensured I didn’t have to worry about Tristan skipping key structural elements and Tristan didn’t have to worry about me presenting an ugly slide.

The next major learning I took from Cannes was that a big idea can come from anywhere. This notion was mentioned in almost every seminar that I attended in Cannes but it was mentioned in the context of working collaboratively with all of a client’s rostered agencies.

However in responding to our 24 hour brief what I discovered was that we communications folk, often become so engrossed in research and theoretical information that when answering a brief we forget to look to the people who have the greatest insights – the consumers.

Our winning idea in Cannes was actually inspired by my boyfriend. An admittedly artistically and musically talented person, but still, a bus driver who has never worked in the communications industry.

As a strategist I have been guilty of overcomplicating ‘big ideas’ but having to deliver a response in 24 hours forces you to be decisive and have clarity in your thinking as there is no alternative. I am also a firm believer that if the strategy is too complex for the communications professionals to understand then it will almost certainly be misinterpretated by the consumer. So entering into a fast strategy situation with an open mind is key to success.

The third key learning from my Cannes experience was that the best communications solutions are brave. This doesn’t necessarily mean employing the latest technology or bucking the trends in your category but it means pushing the boundaries.

So when we were briefed by the World Food Programme to raise enough awareness and funds to feed 59 million hungry people by 2015 we didn’t want to present a solution that encompassed new technology just because we could. We wanted the idea to push the boundaries and to write the execution itself.

We looked for a real insight that made us feel slightly uncomfortable and from there put an idea in front of the client that was so big that in a real life situation many clients would have shied away from it.

What we learned was that bravely standing by your idea and truly believing that it is the best solution shines through during the sell. It wasn’t about supporting our idea with reams of numbers or theory and it wasn’t about second guessing ourselves to deliver what the client wants to hear. It was about putting our best thinking forward even if it initially seemed too big to handle.

So in keeping with the purpose of tonight’s launch to start to shape the DWC community I would ask you to bear in mind my opinions and experiences from a non-online perspective. Consider digital as an adjective and how it may travel across all consumer touch points, consider the death of the stereotypical strategist and consider how fast strategy might benefit your business.

Thank you for your time tonight and please contact me to continue the conversation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Solutions beyond communications

I have recently been fighting the strategist's battle of getting 'traditional' media people to realise the potential of communications channels, outside of the stock standard TV, Radio, Press ilk.

In the past, this resistance was somewhat warranted given media commission was the primary revenue stream for agencies, but more and more we are trading on the strength of our ideas and how well they solve a problem. In fact, my job solely relies on this. So it was nice to come across this tidbit whilst reading Feeding Kat.

"So, Mos Def is launching his new record The Ecstatic on a t-shirt - album cover on front, track list on back, and a hang tag with URL and unique code to download the tracks."

It demonstrates the creative thought process that the music industry have been forced into given the rise of 'free' content and a generation who expect, rather insist, content be free.

I would argue that instead of waiting to be forced into creative thinking, adopting a channel neutral, commercially orientated approach to communications would secure your relationship with a client moving forward. So rather than present an idea that simply solves a problem (ie a 5% increase in awareness YOY) why not present a solution that delivers over and above the communications objectives and stretches into other parts of the client's business?

Many would argue that this isn't the role of the media agency but with a trend toward greater transparency and joint ventures amongst traditional advertisers perhaps down the track, if they can't add value over and above 'manpower', the media agency will become unnecessary and advertisers will just bring the smart thinkers in house.

How to avoid this? A channel neutral apporoach that thinks beyond communications goals towards commercial benefit for the client.

Monday, September 7, 2009

CityGT & 40 foot driving

I just came across this very cool project by JWT Melbourne.

They've created a mobile app called CityGT that launched yesterday in Federation Square. Basically you download the app then head to Fed Square where you can play it on the 40 foot big screen.

The app has been launched to educated teens about the dangers of using a mobile phone when driving. It is "the only driving game you play on the street! Play CityGT on your iPhone or watch it become a virtual steering wheel as you connect and play on the bigscreen at Melbourne's Federation Square! Generate points with precision driving while taking in the massive 3D architecture of the CityGT metropolis."

I love the simplicity of this project. It is on the mark with this audience and in their engagement with the communication, creates a specatcle for the peripheral audience.

I would have liked to have seen a greater link to mainstream PR though particularly given the timeliness of the launch with the story Driven to Distraction run by 60 Minutes last night.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Video in print

I love this new innovation coming out of the US. It gives a new lease of life to those corny 'singing' cards that you've probably received from your grandma at some point in time.

The technology allows you to imbed a wafer-thin video screen into a magazine or insert. With a screen roughly two inches wide, the inserts will use technology similar to the sound-recorders placed within greeting cards and will automatically start to play when the magazine is opened. Controls on a FPC then allow you to skip to certain sections or interact with the video.

Pepsi and CBS in America have been employed to laucnh the innovation in Entertainment Weekly (which has a distribution of over 1.8 million (not all copies will include the video player).


Experiential proof for advocating advocacy

I have long been an advocate of employing influencers both on and offline to help promote your cause.

Typically I am recommending the use of influencers for my client's commercial needs but I have also seen successful use of influencers for less commercially orientated purposes.

This morning on my way to work I was checking Twitter on my phone and couldn't understand why overnight I had picked up 30 new followers. These aren't followers of the spam-esque type but people who are interested in the same things as me and also who I've never had previous contact with. It struck me as a bit strange until I sat down at my computer and had a better look at why this had happened.

It appears that my friend Mark Pollard had tweeted about my recent blog post.

Not only is this flattering as Mark is someone that I admire but it is also experiential proof that my advocacy for employing influencers is warranted. Mark is obviously an influencer in the communications strategy space and due to his promotion of my blog, my profile in the same circle has suddenly risen.

Now I need to think like I do for my clients and understand how best to harness this opportunity!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Abolish the Penny: a communications strategy for the WFP

I've had lots of people ask me about our Gold winning response to the 24hr brief in Cannes. Here is the transcript, enjoy.

Raising enough awareness and funds to feed 59 million people is no mean feat. In fact, with $500,000 it is near impossible.

A traditional media solution is a) not affordable and b) not the answer. We are operating in an extremely cluttered sector. One that has exponentially grown since the mid nineties so much so, that compassion fatigue has swept amongst our target audience.

As such, in driving awareness and funding, our real challenge is not to shout louder than our competitors but to breathe new life into a tired cause.

As sad as this is, compassion fatigue has led to a desentisation of the world hunger crisis. Whilst advertising with malnourished, sad, sub-Saharan children was once so shocking it drove people to change channels, it is now part and parcel of our media consumption.

The opportunity for us is to reframe our communications and make world hunger relevant to people in the developed world. We need to reframe our communications because people whose daily lives are being affected by the global financial crisis are going to be harder to appeal to than ever.

This leads to our key strategic insight that:
People (especially families) don’t have money to spare but everyone has spare change…. Spare change that they can’t even use.

We’re not talking about the 5 or 6 euro in your pocket, we’re talking about the jar of 1 cent coins you have on your kitchen bench.

Due to the widespread economic downturn, acute monetary awareness has become a pastime for many people. It has led to a diminished consumer confidence and as such a downturn in spending and a trend towards ‘nesting’.

People have gone back to basics and are looking after themselves first and foremost. They don’t have enough money to make large contributions to the greater good.

Further, coupled with rising inflation rates, there has been a devaluing of currency in most developed nations. Indeed, even prior the GFC, the smallest unit of currency in many nations was practically worthless.

The US hold onto their pennies, Australia still has five cent coins and the British are stowing away their pence – but what’s the point? You can’t actually buy anything with this money. In fact our youth have never known a life where they could spend their small change on anything. It goes to waste accumulating in jars and dishes around the world never to be used – until now.

We intend to create a movement to abolish the penny.

We will take something that is essentially useless scrap metal and turn it into something of real value. Food for the hungry.

Using the Fill the Cup creative concept we will rally excitement amongst schools and in turn communities to ‘fill a cup’ with their useless coins to benefit those who need it most.

Once again, we’re not talking about the 5 or 6 euro in your pocket, we’re talking about the jar of 1 cent coins you have on your kitchen bench. The ones that you can’t use for anything.

The strategy is simple – we actually want to abolish the lowest value coin in a currency. Rid people of the annoying copper collecting dust, alleviate retailers from hours of counting and give the coins a purpose in life, to feed the hungry.

Kids are best positioned to understand why we would abolish these coins. In their lifetime they’ve known no use for them. As such schools will act as the heartbeat of the campaign. They will be used as a point from which to disseminate information and the point at which we’ll collect the coins.

The strategy will span one year and will be single-minded about abolishing the penny to ‘fill a cup’. It will come to life across three phases (1. seeding, 2. spreading the word, 3. maintaining groundswell) allowing us to inject new news at each point so to generate awareness via PR and chatter. Our budget will be allocated primarily to the hard costs associated with the collection of money.