Wednesday, October 31, 2012

there's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out

The majority of the readers of this blog seem to come from in and around the greater New York area and from broadly round that eastern part of the USA that has been the worst affected by Hurricane Sandy.

So this post is just a message of support from Boat HQ to all of you out there, hoping that the worst is now over and that everyone can shortly start to pick up the pieces and get back into the swing as soon as possible.

I recall listening to an interview with - quintessential New Yorker - Lou Reed that was being conducted in a mid town Manhattan hotel room.

In between questions the journalist commented that it was becoming hard to hear Lou's answers because of the noise of the traffic outside the window.

To which Lou Reed responded 'It's New York. What do you want me to do?'.

Knowing the stoicism of many of my east coast buddies, this week's events won't be too much of a problem.

Finally, and on a customer-service-as-marketing note, we were interested to learn from Business Insider that many of the major banks have agreed to waive a number of fees for customers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut through till Wednesday.

Citibank, Capital One, and Chase customers will pay no fees on many items including extended overdraft, returned Item and insufficient funds Fees, late fees on credit cards, and also loans, including mortgages until the the storm is over.

Friday, October 26, 2012

the death of...the death of...the death of...

A second Schnabel related post.

Regarding the death of this, that, the other and the next thing which seems to be reported every other week.

Personally I've learned in recent years to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Back in 2008/09 I probably was that douche-bag pontificating about the death of advertising and how only social media conversations etc etc was going to be the saviour of marketing.

Eventually one gets over one's own bullshit, to a degree.

I'm taking each day as it comes.

I guess you would call this a MT...

“I thought that if [advertising]is dead, then it’s a nice time to start [doing advertising]. People have been talking about the death of [advertising] for so many years that most of those people are dead now.”

having a job and blaming it for your inability to do your own art

As it's Julian Schnabel's birthday and during my formative years as a young art student the big emotional neo-expressionism of Schnabel and others like Basquiat and even David Salle was pretty exiting, we'll have a quote from him.

That whole 80's period was a bit like punk for painting, a breath of fresh air amongst the pseudo intellectualism of the minimalism that was the dominant or establishment ascetic in the mid 80's.

Schnabel is also known for being a bit of an egocentric mouthpiece hellbent on self-promotion.

So, I probably picked up those 'qualities' from him too.

For all that, he also had a pretty solid work ethic.

This is one of my favourite soundbites.

"It's a great excuse and luxury, having a job and blaming it for your inability to do your own art. When you don't have to work, you are left with the horror of facing your own lack of imagination and your own emptiness. A devastating possibility when finally time is your own."

strategy jukebox friday

If a customer's bond with a brand/product/service is strong enough, then they will continually repurchase without jumping through any of the previous decision journey hoops that they initially made to get there.

This is different from any status quo bias because it is about bond not inertia.
The cult of Apple being case in point. We'll put up with foibles and mistakes from Apple because we feel something for them. The relationship is not simply transactional.

Up to a point, obviously.

A big part of strategy has got be about this, a solid bond.

Though how this can be expressed in a spreadsheet, or brand onion I've yet to find out.

'Feel.. is a word I can't explain,
At least not in words that are plain,
Makin' it easy to express, But I'll try to do my best, to hit you where it counts,
I just want to build up...a solid bond in your heart'

Friday, October 19, 2012

free your ass, your mind will follow

On the day it was announced that the mighty George Clinton and the Parliament/Funkadelic mothership are to headline Victoria's Golden Plains Festival early next year, it seemed like an appropriate juncture to finally call out the legendary P-Funk architect on one small issue.

Changing people’s behaviour first is, in fact, the best way to open their minds.

Action come first, attitude comes second.

For instance, it has been scientifically proven that the simple act, the behaviour, of donning the labcoat of Dr Funkenstein would enable one to believe oneself the actual intergalactic master of outer space Funk.

So we should be better advised to Free Our Ass, then our Mind will Follow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

come on feel the noize

Our thanks go to Tomas Czeszynski, over in Sweden - and a constant source of interesting behavioural nuggets - who pointed to an old post on the Branding Strategy Insider blog yesterday.

Controversial author Martin Lindstrom - remember? Love your iPhone, Literally - published a splendid article on Sensory branding, and the criminal lack of attention paid to the power of sound in advertising.

Lindstrom, this time talking sense, points out:

'There can be no doubt – sound is immensely powerful. And yet 83 per cent of all the advertising we’re exposed to on a daily basis (bearing in mind that the average person will see two million TV commercials in a single lifetime) focuses, almost exclusively, on the sense of sight. That leaves just 17 per cent for the remaining four senses.

Consider to what extent we rely on sound. It confirms almost all our digital and electronic connections. We rely on it to dial or text on our cell phones. Interestingly, the revenue from the slot machines in Las Vegas fell by 24 per cent when the whirring and tinkling sounds was removed. Furthermore, experiments conducted in restaurants show that when music slower than the rhythm of a heartbeat is played, we eat slower and we eat more!'

At the end of the post he also references some research his company conducted that produced three top ten lists of the most 'addictive' non-branded and branded sounds.

Unsurprisingly - from an evolutionary standpoint - baby noises top the chart, and from a cultural point of view, cash register sounds also figured highly in the overall combined chart.

How many times during creative development in advertising have you witnessed the scenario whereby the soundtrack or audio components are the last things selected?

Perhaps even some stock audio has been crow-barred in as a semi-afterthought?

Even if it's just a few it's too many.

Legend has it that Quentin Tarantino takes the audio route first and actually selects and plots the soundtracks for his movies before commencing the writing of the script.

The power of music and sound to evoke memories, feelings and emotional responses is undeniable, that's why it was one of our earliest pre-language forms of communication and continues to have the power to shape culture.

Indeed, everyone has a soundtrack to their lives.

Here's my soundtrack to the spring of 1973, a lanky brat running round smashing windows in Aberdeen with short trousers.

find products for your customers

I remember this story from last year about the kid who invented a doorbell which calls the householder's mobile phone if nobody answers the door.

Laurence Rook, the 13 year old boy from Croydon, said he got the idea after noticing his mother had missed several deliveries by not being in the house.

Laurence licensed his invention off to the tune of circa 250k.

At the time it struck me that the combined innovation departments of BT, Orange, T-mobile, Vodafone and goodness knows who else from the telco sector had failed to notice this simple customer insight/problem, yet a 13 year-old kid, paying attention, had come up with fantastic piece of utility using a sim card and some bits and pieces lying about the house.

Another one that the telco's have missed cropped up on FIR: the Hobson and Holtz Report podcast that I listened to this morning in the car.

This was the first time I'd heard of Connectify, a software based router for Windows computer that shares wi-fi connections your other devices.

One of the principal benefits for the business, or otherwise, traveller being that in many hotels the wi-fi access is limited to one device at a time - Connectify solves that conundrum.

Again, one has to wonder why this had to be invented by a small start-up (the software's development was funded via crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, by the way) when there was a simple customer insight to be leveraged and yet none of the telco's saw the opportunity.

I'm reminded of this simple maxim that Seth Godin is often quoted on, in regard to where businesses should look for innovation opportunities and to temper the impulses that lead them to be hellbent on acquisition of new customers.

'Don't just look to finding customers for your products, find products for your customers.'

Friday, October 12, 2012

the paperless office self-nudge

I wonder if this one will work? I took a tip from Pete at work and in an attempt to cut down the amount of paper (ie printed material) in my office at home I've simply made the desk space so small as to be nigh on impossible to stack up documents, therefore discouraging me from printing in the first place.

Friday, October 05, 2012

chair man of the bored

Just a couple of points on the Facebook 90 second film released online yesterday. The ad has been broadly panned by the social media commentators for a variety of banal reasons I wont go into, however I liked the spot before I knew this and the criticism has only served to make me like it more.

It's worth stepping back for a second and remember what this advertising is for.

It's not about acquiring new customers or promoting trial.
It's not about brand awareness.
It's not even any sort of post-purchase rationalisation.

It's no accident that Facebook picked Wieden and Kennedy be agency of record, the next evolution of Facebook, the brand, will have to involve moving it out of the technology and social network categories - how they do that and where it goes will be interesting to watch - but from a comms point of view that's just the kind of emotional storytelling shift that is bread and butter for W&K.

See Nike, Levi's, P&G to name just a couple.

This spot didn't have to be made for any commercial reasons, but works as a kind of celebration of what's been achieved and a look-how-far-we've-come.

Facebook is one of those American dream success stories so perhaps a little hedonic boost is permissible and from a strategic point of view, starting to position Facebook in that same iconic Americana-brand-for-the-world, space like Nike and Levi's is the correct move.

One small note to the writers - it's aeroplane not airplane.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

to be perfectly frank

I don't know if Frank Sinatra ever wrote a song in his puff.

But it's hard to argue that as an artist his blues-inflected saloon balladeer ouvre (particularly his mid-50's period circa 'Only The Lonely') pretty much wrote the book of sharp American masculine cool, and with significant sex, style, subversion and skill to boot.

Sinatra's ability to interpret a song, and take it somewhere else was his art.

It was not necessary to have been the originator of the material.

As a young guitar slinger in the early 80's I was the principle tunesmith in several bands.

(None of these particularly 'made it' but that's not what the story is about.)

I was a fan of the hits of Burt Bacharach and Hal David for a time, but the prolific nature of that partnership meant there were literally hundreds of their songs that I was not familiar with.

So to write tunes for my band I would often pull out the Bacharach-David songbook, pick a tune a didn't know and use the chords to make up my own tune.

I couldn't read music so all I had to go on were the chord shapes.

So nine times out of ten I'd end up with something new based on 'copying' Burt and Hal.

In advertising we idealise and revere the novelty or originality of ideas and insights.

In fact, we relentlessly pursue the 'new', almost at all costs.

We hold aloft the stuff that proclaims 'this has never been done before'.

Really this is the true advertising conceit.
If we are honest, advertising has routinely hi-jacked, jumped upon or otherwise adopted and commercialized existing cultural ideas since day one.
That’s what it does, and that’s why it works.

But is new always better?

I've no qualms at all about adopting an insight from somewhere else and applying it to the particular problem I'm looking at.

I've equally no qualms about adopting the basis of an idea that may have been used somewhere else and improving it.

Because, and I’ll quote enfant terrible of le Nouvelle Vague, Jean Luc Godard here, it's not where something comes from that's important, it's where it goes to.

Novelty is over-rated, to be perfectly frank.

We don't always need new, just better.