Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Differentiation Is Different From Difference.

Back in 1967, Fab and Zoom were popular ice lollies. Bizarrely, Fab was originlly aimed at girls and Zoom at boys, but both were marketed in conjunction with popular TV show Thunderbirds to exploit the products' shapes and to exude the idea of play.

Fifty years on, a big push has been made to celebrate the anniversary and below you can see one of the outdoor ads that has been created. They're different. I saw one creative director tweet that they were the best outdoor ads he'd seen in years.

To which I'd respond with some pithy questioning of the state of outdoor advertising creativity.


No doubt there will be effectiveness papers claiming these did something for Fab - but that will have to be discounted by consideration of the heatwave and the fact that this was a huge increase in marketing expenditure.

Russell Davies has often written about winning the Honda business by pointing out that every car ad looked the same and being different was the way to create clear blue water between Honda and the rest. But this wasn't difference for the sake of it - it was difference that drew attention to a real differentiation.

You have to conclude that "Where There's Fab, There's Fun" doesn't really challenge Honda's "Isn't It Good When Something Just Works?" and fun certainly isn't illustrated in the ad.  It's an ad which is designed to appeal to a sense of irony rather than a sense of play. An ad that the industry might like, but that customers will ignore.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Make Marketing Stress-Tested.


Hot on the heels of Boaty McBoatface , Tay and the rest comes the latest marketing fiasco.

Joining the rush to involve their customers in their marketing, Walker's Crisps encouraged them to upload photos to appear online with their brand spokesman. A few complied, but many more uploaded images of serial killers and others who didn't really fit the brand guidelines. And, of course, there were live billboard feeds of the Twitterstream.

It happens again and again. After all this time, it's still amazing how little digital marketers seem to understand about the web.

The answer is simple. You need to stress-test all your marketing. You need to look at it with scepticism and wrack your brains for the worst case scenarios of how it might mis-fire. This doesn't happen for the simple reason that it's viewed as negativity. But unthinking team-players are still unthinking and bad ideas are still bad.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Keep Calm And Monetise.


Marketing is all about creating a sense of scarcity through functional differentiation or pricing. That gets harder in the world of abundance that characterises free or freemium business models. It gets harder still in the world of phone apps.

Calm.com had a problem. They were an early entrant into the mindfulness space. They were run by seasoned entrepreneurs. They provided their users with daily meditation guides. Daily meditation guides that too many of their users downloaded to their devices and didn't use.

Because signing up to a mindfulness app doesn't make you a practioner. And if you're not an active practitioner you're not much use as a prospect for upgrading to profitable, premium offerings.

Their solution is an elegant product hack. By making the downloads last only 24 hours, they created genuine scarcity. You no longer have a phone full of unused meditation guides, you now have one meditation guide that will disappear if you don't get serious about this mindfulness thing.

If you're not serious about meditation, this might irritate you a little, but that's presumably your default state so no problem there. But, if you're serious or want to be, it is exactly the kind of prompt that might nudge you to make the effort to practice daily. It's not a restriction,  it's an encouragment.

Soon enough, you appreciate that Calm.com are actually helping you towards your goal. By doing so, they're also helping you towards their goal. Which is one reason why they're already profitable and have multi million dollar revenues.

Marketing is about changing behaviour; changing behaviour is about creating habits; and creating habits is about interaction. And this is a simple reminder that product is the first P of marketing.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Where's The Beef?



Your poster has my attention. You seem to be establishing a hierarchy of beef and suggesting that Scotch Beef sits at its pinnacle.

But you don't tell me why. You don't even give me a hint. You just assume I will be willing to devote some more of my attention to your website.

You lost my attention.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Make Marketing Credible.


This is the work of advertising craft that greeted me on a train a couple of days ago. It immediately felt wrong. Can you see what they've done there?

The first thing that struck me was the cueing action of the woman preparing to strike the white ball. It looks to me as if there's a real possibility that she's not even going to hit it but, even if she does, what shot is she playing? I was baffled. But then I realised that it didn't matter because the game is already over. There are just four red balls on the table and nothing else. And yet her compatriots are ridiculously over-excited by the non-situation. No wonder her cueing action has fallen apart.

By now, I was more engaged with the ad than expected and my attention switched from the art director's craft to that of the copywriter.  Added extras could be accused of superfluity but "More FREE added extras" really is laying it on thick even for Villa Plus. That said,  I note that punctuation is not one of the aforementioned extras.

There are a three sentences on this ad. One of them ends with a full-stop/period, the other two don't. And the one that does, hyphenates air-conditioning but doesn't hyphenate table-tennis (when to do so would arguably improve the blocking of the text) and thinks a comma between the much and much is too much - probably becase they've eschewed the Oxford comma after air-conditioning.

Pedantry? Perhaps. But let's get back to the art director. What's going on with the sun here? Was the logo incorporated into it at the top left or was that just the best place to put the logo and was the sun originally at top right? It's really hard to tell because the various shadows tell contrasting stories. Those around the pergola and those on the pool point to it having been top right. Many of the others look like attempts to make it top left while that one on the pool table suggests the sun is directly overhead.

Oh and while I'm at it, don't those sun-loungers appear to be on a slope while the pool table manages to maintain the horizontal? Maybe all this visual cognitive dissonance is a sneaky device designed to maintain my interest in the vista, but my two minutes were up and all I was left wondering was how on earth this sort of shoddiness got through a creative review at a major business and a substantial agency? Baffling Plus.






Thursday, January 05, 2017

The 4 Ws Of Messaging.



The 4Ws of messaging are what you say, where you say it, when you say it and to whom you say it. I invented them in reaction to seeing this poster the other day.

For non-UK readers, the Northern Line is one of the lines of the London tube/subway system and one that has recently been synonymous with torrid travel. So, what is being said is clear enough. Not award-winning, but clear.

Unfortunately, I did not see this poster in London. Rather, it was on the back of a bus stop in a side-street in a commuter town. So, not the optimal where - especially as the side-street was nowhere near the town's station. And that means that commuters who might have a knowledge of the Northern Line were unlikely to see it.

So, not the optimal who either.

None of this is necessarily the fault of the non award-winning copywriter and art director (unless the brief was to create a nationally relevant campaign) even if it does suffer from metropolitan centricism. But it does serve as a reminder that media buyers should focus on the message they're placing as well as the audience in front of whom they're being asked to place it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Narrative Fallacies.

The new year brings an invitation to a story-telling webinar.

An article about it asserts that "In the past, before tech came and muddled everything, a brand's objective was simple: create engaging stories to capture the public's imagination and endear them to the brand"

No, no, no. Marketing is not about stories. Stories are made up. Stories are contrived. Stories are disbelieved.

No. Great marketing is about uncovering and communicating truths. Not truths that please the CMO or support the Board's delusions aboutthe nature of their customers. But truths that resonate with the lives of real people and make them more inclined to buy your product or service.

And, yes, suggesting that your product or service wil make the user feel like a superhuman is a legitimate story, even if we and they both know that they won't actually become superhuman. Because that's not the truth.