Friday, November 30, 2012

two of a kind

One of the many great things about Apple's advertising is the way they make technology look like it's not technology.

In the Steve Jobs biography there's a chapter about his love of industrial design. In particular the Braun products designed by Dieter Rams.

indeed, Jobs vision for Apple products was that of 'appliances' like food mixers etc.

For fellow BE enthusiasts the iPad mini spot above makes splendid, and confident, use of the anchoring effect.

Worth noting also that, again, Apple are also never afraid of a bit of bold, strategic cannibalisation.

Plus the use of 'Two Of A Kind' by Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer (with Billy May's Big Band) is another masterstroke.

HT to Owen Jenkinson.

keep on keepin' on

I think it was Seth Godin who coined this one.

'If you can't explain your position in 8 words then you don't have a position.'

As we are in a vein of posts with some slight mod-ish connections - and, possibly, testament to some sort of mid life crisis that brings me to revisit my teen period circa late 70's early 80's - I'm recalling the strategy of the mighty Redskins.

In 8 words, with a sort-of double metaphor effect, to boot.

'Walk like the Clash, sing like the Supremes'

Keep on keepin' on, yeah.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

we are the mods #momentum

Thick as Thieves is a new book, that explores the story of The Jam ('the best band in the f****** world') through the collective stories of the fans, and associates of the group.

Authors Stuart Deabill and Ian Snowball describe their work as being 'produced by the fans for the fans'

For me also, the story of the Jam is pretty much the story of growing up in a provincial outpost in the 1970's.

My thanks go to Petar who pointed me to the above 25 minute promo documentary which gives a bit of a flavour of the content of the book, as various fans recount their take on the Jam phenomenon in their own youth.

There's also a couple of pointers/reminders for us from a marketing perspective on how people may come together around an idea.

In 2012 in agency land we still receive the challenge from brand marketers asking us to help 'build a community' around their brand.

My answer is still the same as it was in 2007.

'How about building your brand around communities?' How does the brand fit in people's lives? What role does it play? If any?

About 7 minutes in, journo and 78/79 era mod, Garry Bushell talks about the pivotal moment in 1978 when the Jam headlined at the 11,000 capacity Wembley Arena.

This was a major leap in venue size for bands of the broadly 'punk' era.

'Although there had been mods around since '76, in little individual pockets, even as late as 1978 they didn't realise that each other existed.

So by the time we had the Great British Music Festival [in November 1978]...that's the first time that all these Mods, who were consciously calling themselves Mods...that's the first time they realised that there was more than just them...then it really began to crystalise as a movement'

Because - and here's the thing - movements aren’t driven by so-called (or self-anointed) ‘influencers’, but can be sparked by a mass of individuals who influence each other and copy each other.

The key point of this being that when they can see each other, so they can copy each other.

That's how we get momentum and scale.

The Jam didn't invent the movement but they became the focal point that then acted to unify the disparate groups.

In 1978 it was harder for the mods to see each other. It took two years to get from the Marquee club or pubs in Fulham to Wembley Arena (and scale).

Today this can happen in an instant.

So, brands, where are the disparate groups out there that you can serve?

Can you make it so they can see each other?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

sandy island (cognitive outsourcing revisited)

You may be familiar with the story of The Mountains of Kong.

They were a non-existent mountain range charted on most English maps of Africa from 1798 through the late 1880s, following their 'discovery' by an English cartographer.

Some cartographers stopped including the mountains on maps after some French explorers noticed their 'disappearance' in expedition to chart the Niger River but the mysterious mountains continued to appear on maps until late in that century and even in the 20th century, when they appeared in a Goode's World Atlas in 1995.

Mark Earls uses the story as an example in his book 'I'll Have what she's Having' to describe the way in which we rely on and use the brains of others in our decision making, a kind of cognitive outsourcing.

We can all very well have a chuckle at 19th Century cartographers but I was delighted to see that a modern day version of The Mountains of Kong story has emerged this week, and reveals that even the all seeing Google doesn't think as much as we possibly think it thinks..

The Independent reports that a team of Australian scientists, led by Maria Seton, a geologist from the University of Sydney, found themselves sailing straight through what appeared on charts as a large island during a research trip in the South Pacific.

'Sandy Island – according to Google Earth, world maps, marine charts and scientific publications – lies in the Coral Sea, between northern Australia and the French territory of New Caledonia. Except that it doesn’t, as the scientists discovered – or undiscovered – during their recent 25-day voyage. Where the island was marked on maps they found only deep blue ocean – very deep, as it turned out.'

'We sailed over it,' Dr Seton told ABC radio yesterday. 'We’re actually not sure [how it got on the maps]. It must just be that there was some error that was created in one of the coastline data studies, and it’s just propagated through the scientific literature.'

Friday, November 23, 2012

getting rid of the albatross

An interesting day at iStrategy in Melbourne yesterday, culminating in an end of day panel that I sat on with Andrew Smith, the head of brand marketing from Bupa Australia and Murray Howe, the head of digital strategy and innovation at Suncorp.

We discussed behaviour change, the real cost of social media marketing and the inevitability of social business, amongst other things.

Also, and nearly two years down the line, the famous NAB campaign is still something people want to discuss, however I'm now drawing a line in the sand and it's time to move on.

If you catch me speaking about it again then please come and give me a slap.

'I know you very well, you are unbearable,
I've seen you up far too close
Getting rid of the albatross...'

Thanks to the iStrategy team and in particular MC Adam Burns, I'm def stealing a couple of his gags for future use - and see you next year for my keynote after the book comes out.

Photo credit: Nicole McInnes

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

that's entertainment

Two little connected things i liked this week, both about pop music though contextually about 30 years apart.

On BBC Radio 4's Mastertapes, Paul Weller reflected on a couple of his most well-known songs from the Jam period, 'A Town Called Malice' and 'That's Entertainment'.

PW said that when he performs those songs today he does not feel any ownership of the songs anymore.

Though of course he wrote both songs back in 81/82 and continues to perform them both today in 2012. He explained that these kind of songs have become so much part of a modern strand of a kind of ancient folk tradition that they are now almost the property of the people.

Presumably from whom he occasionally borrows them back.

In framing them this way PW can choose to play them or not without having to deal with any nostalgia interference.

Then over to K-Pop chap PSY talking about Gangnam Style (what else?) which I caught on the Jonathan Ross TV show.

JR quizzed PSY about how he viewed the success of 'Gangnam Style' and did he feel under pressure to follow it up with something else of a comparable scale?

Almost wistfully PSY rebuked JR by stating he was fine with success, and was 6 big albums into a very successful pop career in his native Korea.

But, he added, Gangnam Style was not success.

It was actually a phenomenon.

And that that this phenomenon actually had very little to do with PSY and everything to do with its adoption by everyone else.

So as well as contributing his piece to this folk tradition, or publicly 'owned' culture, even if no-one outside of Korea hears of PSY again after this year he has also nicely framed 'Gangnam Style' as a special case rather than one-hit wonder, and can then go back to simply being a success.

Or something.

the deification of imbecility

Can't really argue with Craig Ferguson's splendid insight here.

via Dangerous Minds

Friday, November 16, 2012

his brilliance baffles them

The post earlier this week entitled 'You win nothing with kids', struck a chord with a number of readers.

Perhaps the sensitive nature of the topic dictated that the commentary mostly happened through private channels, heh.

I am grateful, however, to Harshal (and I hope he doesn't mind being identified) who reminded me of this one from the Ernest Wooley charachter in J. M. Barrie's 'The Admirable Crichton'

It's appears that GenY over confidence was also a conversation in 1902.

The quote itself is often mis-attributed to Oscar Wilde.

In Wilde's 'Phrases and Philosophies for the use of the Young (1894)' he declares 'The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything' however the Ernest character in '...Crichton' is widely believed to be a caricature of Wilde's character in'The Importance of Bieng Earnest'.

As I suspected.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

no festival of facebook posts

In an episode of this new series on Radio 4, Mastertapes, Billy Bragg talks to John Wilson about the making of his mid 80s classic album 'Talking with the Taxman about Poetry.'

Towards the end Bill closes with a sagely comment that acutely sums up the limitations of social media that perhaps we overlook from time to time.

Social media never won any election, brought down any oppressive regime or moved any group of people to do this, that or the other.

Social media are tools, 'revolutions' happen among people.

‘Young people are engaging in politics through Facebook and Twitter, and that’s great , but the sad thing is that no-one, as far as I know, has written a tweet that can make you cry...there is no festival of Facebook posts where you go to Canada and stand in front of an audience that you have never met before and ‘wow’ them with your Facebook comments.’

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

you win nothing with kids

I've just recently started paying attention to the Linked-in Today feature, mainly through the mobile app.

If you don't know about this it's kinda a news aggregator within linked-in that picks some of the top stories of the day for you, presumably contextually based on the information in your personal profile.

There also seems to be some ability to customise the feed though I haven't tampered with that as yet.

Ons story jumped out this morning - full marks to the author for a headline that was def going to grab me - 'Why I hesitate to hire forty-somethings' by Belgian self-styled thought leader Inge Geerdens.

The post had managed to rack up over 700 mostly derisory and critical comments overnight. The outrage is probably based on the headline rather than the content.

The post itself contains no great revelations. She is basically bemoaning the fact that experienced candidates want more money, she has no money, so she will prefer to hire 20-somethings.

Blah blah.

This age thing is a can of worms, however.

Particularly in the advertising world, and extra-particularly it's digital wing.

First a disclosure - despite my youthful good looks I have to confess to being over 40 myself. Hard to believe, I know, but it's true.

There's a bullshit idea in adland that 'digital' is only understood by the under 30's.

That simply being digital-native (ie having grown up at the same pace and time as the internet) is somehow evidence of credentials.

It's not, but youth and enthusiasm is a great base on which to build the experience and chops needed to complete the picture.

At the end of the day, it's never mind the technology - here's the marketing communications and 90% of the chops are learned over time, on the job. This takes time.

Having said that, there's been a flurry of noteworthy appointments recently to top agency management roles for number of under 30's.

One guy I worked with at a previous agency is now MD of a big shop at 28. However, he started working at agencies aged 18 - doing his uni studies in parallel - so in effect he has ten years in anyway, making him almost a veteran.

There's definitely a case for taking an early interest in your career, putting in the hours early on and having a determination to succeed.

I wish I had done that.

Alan Hansen will never be allowed to forget his comment after a young Manchester United team suffered an early season defeat at Aston Villa in 1995.

Hansen remarked 'You win nothing with kids'.

United responded by winning the Premier League and FA Cup Double.

Hansen was right, though.

You'll struggle to win with 'only' the kids.

The United 'kids' in question were, of course, the likes of David Beckham, the Neville brothers, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
But they were supported by the very experienced Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce and the legendary Eric Cantona.

Our friend Inge Geerdens, would be best advised to note that perhaps the trick is the old blend of youth and experience, while being mindful that, unavoidably for the most part, you get what you pay for.

Monday, November 12, 2012

none of the above (miniskirts part 2)

Back in the day there was an old anarchist/situationist slogan that used to appear around election time that went something like..
'Don't vote - It only encourages them'.
Or the other one was 'Whoever You vote for, the government gets in'.

I'm not sure this story correlates exactly but I was intrigued by this nugget from Eric Horrow's blog 'Peer-reviewed by my neurons'.

As the dust settles on the US election, and collective America asks itself...

'Is everybody happy?
'Good, it's a deal'

What about those 'voters' who actually wanted neither Obama or Romney in the Oval office?

What was the choice available to them?

Horrow argued that if you are one of those dissenters then thing to do was vote for Obama.

'...the goal of these voters [who want neither] should evolve into ensuring that neither Obama nor Romney is elected president in 2016. Here’s where the decision become clear. If Obama wins this year there’s almost no chance that Obama or Romney will win the 2016 election. But if Romney wins there’s better than a 50% chance that Obama or Romney will win the 2016 election.

For people who claim they don’t want either Obama or Romney to be president, a 2012 Romney victory is a disaster because it ensures that in 2016 one party’s nominee will be somebody they already disapprove of...[so, in 2016] an unknown scenario is better than helping pave the road for the favored nominee to be somebody you already know you disapprove of.'

So although Baz appeared to romp home, could it be that a big chunk of the electorate overcame their natural tendency for hyperbolic discounting and figured that the best way to get rid of two candidates that they didn't support was to vote in the encumbent in the knowledge that in four years time both candidates will be gone.

Suddenly that 3,000,000 margin in the popular vote doesn't look so impressive.

I'm slightly joking, and I'll take Baz over the other guy any day of the week but, y'know...

As our old friend Ebbe Skovdahl, clearly a big data skeptic before we even invented the term, noted back in '09...

'Statistics are just like mini-skirts, they give you good ideas but hide the most important thing.'

Friday, November 09, 2012

look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology

I'm due to be doing a talk at the iStrategy event in Melbourne in a couple of weeks.

While compiling my presentation I've found an old segment I've used a couple of times about how the technology always comes first, then creative people mess around with it and something different and interesting comes out the other end.

I've been pulled up by certain marketing digerati in the past for expressing the view that the tools and tech of the day are not so important, it's how we go about understanding the behaviours that the tech enables or makes easier or whatever that we should be most interested in.

I stand by that view, but should explain that the it's not simply that the tools don't matter per se, but the tools themselves are transient, they come and go. What really matters is using the available technology do do something that really matters.

That's flimsy segue into Iggy, but it's Friday..

Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology...
Ain't got time to make no apology.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

i'm a mess

For some reason neuromarketing seems to be flavor du jour in some quarters at the moment, I appear to be hearing about it all the time.

Or perhaps it’s another example of the ‘frequency illusion’, or 'the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon' that we've mentioned here before.

I was asked to describe our point of view and approach to this subject via one of our clients and responded that, yes, this one area of enquiry that we can turn to in informing how we look at describing buyer behavior but certainly not any one-method-fits-all.

In truth, our process means we probably ‘magpie’ some relevant parts of neuroscience research, mix it up with other bits of behavioural economics and human psychology.

It’s not important or even necessary to have a complete understanding of the above sciences however it’s important have a broad understanding to pick out the pieces that are most useful.

In fact one of the most important parts to address before developing strategies is knowing 'how' a product or service is bought and what the influences are.

We often hear about communications that affect a behavior change, or otherwise.

But what is often not properly explained is what-the-existing-behavior-is-that requires-changing.

Selecting product X versus product Y is not a behavior change it’s just an instance or two of substitution of product.

I like this four quadrant model for identifying buying behavior which I’ve paraphrased from ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’.

Independent choices

1. Guesswork – where the choice is mostly independent, in categories with with low differentiation and a high number of choices - then things like sales promotions, 'twofers', and suchlike are key . Things like insurance often purchased in this manner.

2. Considered choice – again the choice is broadly independent, but there are fewer choices – in the book Mark cites things like deodorant falling into this bucket.

Social choices

1. Copying experts – where there are fewer number of choices but a higher price point then expert opinions matter – high end tech products are one example, some automotive is probably another.

2. Copying peers –where there are a high number of choices then social influence is a major factor. Fashion, music, movies etc. This is a pretty large quadrant and in fact most buying behaviour is influenced by peer copying.

Once this is established then the fun starts...

The key thing is to understand that the combination of social influence and then a layer of human biases is a heady mixture and testament to the idea that we really don't act in the rational cost-benefit-analysis way that economists and marketers imagine we do. In fact we are manipulated by our own biases all the time.

Here's my top five favourite biases.

A common human trait to rely too heavily, or ‘anchor’ on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.
Here’s a real cancelled flights example that I fell for recently.

Airline: 'Sorry Mr Pritchard the 5.45 has been cancelled, but I can put you on the 9.45'
Me: 'WTF!'
Airline: 'Hang on, there's one seat on the 7.45 I can get you'
Me: 'cool!'

The restaurant wine list – we instinctively go towards the mid price wines because the restaurant are craftily framing them with super-expensive and cheapskate options.
Or buying a car – 'do I get the basic no frills model or the high end super deluxe souped-up version? Actually let’s go for the one in the middle that looks like better value'

We've recently applied this to how we frame donation levels for a charity's online campaign. I expect to see an uplift in overall donations vs where they have been.

A mental rule of thumb in which we use the ease which similar examples come to mind to form an idea about the probability of certain events.
For example, more people are killed every year by refrigerators falling on top of them than by terrorists, but because of the 'availability' of information about terrorism we see that as more of a threat.

Someone who has to write a blog post about neuromarketing, for example, will primarily search for information that would confirm his or her pre-existing beliefs ;)

The situation where people justify increased investment in a process, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, starting today, of continuing the decision now outweighs any expected benefit.
See also 'sunk cost fallacy'. Think about CommBank who continued to pump money into the 'CAN' campaign despite early evidence that it was sure to flop. heh.

And the best of all…

Also known as the 'knew-it-all-along effect' is the inclination to see events that have already occurred as being more predictable than they were before they took place.

'I wish I'd put that $100 on Green Moon, I knew it was going to win…'

That’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch. There’s literally hundreds of foibles we all succumb to on a moment by moment basis.
I’m working up a post on the Texas Sharpshooter Bias as we speak, so stand by for that…

Also the other fundamental to remember is that behaviour shapes attitudes not the other way round. We will almost always modify our attitudes to be consistent with our behaviours.

We post-rationalise our decisions afterwards.

Any given product does not have to be clearly better in terms of rational features or benefits. Its social value, for instance may be more useful.

After all, there’s plenty of 'better' phones out there other than Apple’s but, for now, it's arguably still the popular choice because it says something about the taste of it's owner.

So the if objective is to change the buyer behaviour first, this may involve moving the behaviour around a product or service from one ‘type’ of behaviour to another.

For instance, outside of two or three big ones, the majority of breakfast serial purchase behaviour could be lumped into in the guesswork category. Driven by promotions and such-like, so any behavior change strategy would first involve moving buyer behaviour from a guesswork, commodity, space into a peer-copying space .

There is a precedent, I've seen some research to suggest that around 60-70% of groceries are bought because they are the brands that 'mum' bought, so there’s a territory to start with.

Unfortunately there is no 'buy-button' in the brain despite what some neuromarketers say. If only it were as straightforward.

There’s a great TED talk I saw recently, and I forgot to bookmark it so if any readers recognize this bit then please point me to the talk.

The speaker recounts the ways in which through his research he identified the ways in which people describe the 'story' of their lives.

A Journey?
A Film?
A Novel?
A Battle?

These were all popular descriptions.

No-one described their life story as a mess.

But, for most of us that’s what it is.

For those looking for a silver bullet in marketing then the bad news is that there isn't one.

Human behavior is a big wonderful a mess that you just have to pick through and try and find the bits that are going to work for you.

Friday, November 02, 2012

out to lunch

I'm having a few days off. Don't expect anything here til next Wednesday at the earliest.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

don't be a menace

This post on Finalmile cought my eye this morning.

In 'Don't be a cheater' they pose a question that asks; can our sense of identity and therefore behaviour be affected just by the simple construct of a question or statement?

This is described as noun vs. verb framing.

In an experiment participant groups were given different sets of instructions prior to the test - 'don't cheat' vs 'don't be a cheater'

'When ‘Please don’t cheat’ (verb form) was used in the instructions, participants in a group resorted to the same amount of cheating as a baseline group, whereas using ‘Please don’t be a cheater’ (noun) eliminated cheating completely.'

'Why should this happen? People can downplay instances of cheating and convince themselves that these occasional lapses do not make one a dishonest person – this is harder to do with the use of a self-relevant noun that clearly states the implications of cheating.'

If you work with nfp organisations on fundraising, for example it's worth considering experimenting with the subtle difference between 'please support/donate/help' or whatever and 'please be a supporter'.

Indeen it's worth A/B testing noun vs. verb framing with any call to action for that matter.

'Find out more' vs 'be one of the first to know' or even 'Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood'.