Month: February 2011

Rediscovering trust

http://oceanadesigns.net/wp-json/oembed/1.0/embed?url=http://oceanadesigns.net/envira/blue-pearl-gt/ While the officials, scientists and insurers in Christchurch start the interminable discussions over what, when, where, why, how much and who, perhaps the toughest task of all for the authorities doesn’t lie in rebuilding the structures, but rather in bringing back the very human aspect of trust. With time, patience and enough goodwill and funding, government, insurers, investors and the private sector can restore order, power, water, services, homes, the CBD, everything that has been physically lost and damaged. But what the hell is it going to take for faith to return?

Out-thinking the recession

buy provigil from canada When everyone’s in sale, no-one is. It simply means the market has reset the prices that consumers expect to pay. So I was interested in this interview with retail specialist Jim Lucas of Draft FCB about how businesses should approach recessive times. Here are my key out-takes from his interview: The lack of decline in small luxuries such as skincare and animal treats is a clear sign that shoppers will hold on to a handful of indulgences in their everyday lives just to feel normal. The secret is to scan for those opportunities in their changing behaviours. Rather than focus on the big ticket buys, look for little pleasures. Lucas says marketing is about trying to change behaviour, and a recession is a strong backdrop for that. “’You need to think of creating behaviours or new forms of regimen or rituals or routines that are going to fit into this new era.” That means, for example, calling for smaller actions: paint a wall, rather than repaint the house. Continued discounting will simply make some categories …

Four hard yards

follow site Sitting in the lounge waiting to board yet another plane, it’s fascinating how many people are busy. Laptops open everywhere, conversations on smartphones everywhere (at various levels of discretion). No-one wants to miss a minute. And yet today Borders tanked, and local book chain Whitcoulls announced it’s in schtum … I wonder how many of their senior people are at work right now still believing that hard work alone will get them through … Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting things to change. Somehow, we’ve allowed ourselves to be lulled into the false security of doing. Things will just be fine if we work hard, advertise hard, sell hard. But while all this is happening – while everyone is working hard out – it’s easy to forget the real things that actually put distance between you and circumstances. 1. Look hard – at what’s really happening and ask the hard questions about what that might mean 2. Brand hard – so that you continue to …

What’s your reply?

“I can’t believe they got that job. We are so much better than them”. We’ve all heard that. Some of us have said it. Here’s the question. Then, why did they get it? If it was price, what did they do to their cost structures to make their price possible? If it was networks, what are they doing or who do they know that you don’t? If it was credibility, what makes them a more comfortable choice than you? So many companies respond to a competitor’s wins with excuses. The companies I like are the ones that use every loss as an opportunity to re-evaluate if and how they themselves need to change. Sometimes, decisions are a bit like email. It’s not the message you get that counts. It’s the way you choose to reply.

The real recipe for Coke's success

So someone’s supposedly discovered the recipe for Coca Cola. What does that mean for the world’s most popular drink? Very little I would have thought. Because the world’s most closely guarded beverage trade secret has already done its job – it has helped build perhaps the most consistently powerful brand in the world. Beyond that, its value as a formula today is questionable. Even if someone did replicate the taste, so what? They still wouldn’t be Coke. Great brands grow beyond the products they marque. They actually come to embody ideas – such as happiness in the case of Coca Cola – that the product reports to, and not the other way round. The New Coke debacle might suggest otherwise to some, but to me that was much more about changing a product that consumers held dear rather than a taste issue. Consumers expressed their apprehension by citing taste, but taste, in my reading of this particular case, was the identifier to the wider fear. What they were really saying is – don’t touch. So …

Ten minutes of Gaga

If I was a Lady Gaga fan, how would I feel about her claim to have written her latest single in 10 minutes? Would I see that as a sign of her huge creativity? Or would I, on reflection, consider that the return for minutes invested, assuming this is another big hit, is going to make most Wall Street bonuses look relatively modest? A cynic might say if it just took 10 minutes then she didn’t do a lot to make a lot. It didn’t take 10 minutes of course. It took all the experience that Gaga brought up to that moment, and all the subsequent time it took, both hers and for everyone else involved – to get the ideas in the song expressed, captured, edited, packaged, marketed and distributed; time probably better expressed in at least months. So the key value metric here is misleading; it’s not actually time to create (the idea), it’s time to market (the final result). By drawing attention to the 10 minutes, Gaga has framed the product in …

The power of occasions

Habits are powerful, but occasions may be even more so. I think they engage us so effectively because they combine time and focus. And because of that, they provide permission – it’s OK to behave this way or that. It’s OK to do something you wouldn’t do on any ordinary day. If you’re a smart brand, you’ll find a way to hook into that; to link what you’re about to what people are thinking about on specific occasions. You’ll give them a reason and a way to excel at the emotion of the moment. On Valentine’s Day it seems appropriate to look at a brand that used the occasion of declaring love to forge one of the most powerful marketing campaigns of all time. De Beers have turned a diamond into the embodiment of eternity with their sublime catch-phrase ‘A diamond is forever’. They’ve linked the optimism and romance of occasions like engagements and weddings with the promise to stay together ‘till death do us part’. They have encapsulated all that in a single symbol …

The value of market valuations

Now it’s Twitter’s turn to be valued like a phone number, and it seems I’m not the only one thinking this is just a little OTT. Google’s Eric Schmidt says there are clear signs of a bubble. Great. Then he adds: “But valuations are what they are. People believe that these companies will achieve huge sales in the future.” Isn’t that the point of bubbles? They’re based on valuations, and hopes, which people say are beliefs, and for some reason we accord these valuations the status of quasi-science. They are of course nothing of the sort. They are today’s guess, this minute’s emotional response, a numeric whim – surely that was the point of the GFC. Let me apply another quote from my friend Gren. Twitter worth $10 billion, with the potential to grow into a $100 billion company? “That’s dumber than a box of hammers.” Or maybe not. At least with a hammer you can nail something down.

Groupon humour. Save us please.

So everyday discounters Groupon chose the most expensive ad day of the year to draw attention to themselves, and somehow came out the other side looking cheaper than their specials. Is that funny? Does it even make sense? Could they be more glib? Here’s their justification. Sorry but this wasn’t clever advertising. Or smart, edgy or provocative advertising. To me, this was just outright dumb ego-drumming dressed up to be “dangerous”. I’d have fired agency Crispin Porter Bogusky just for presenting that work … (Shame. They were a great agency once.) So why did Groupon do it? Fame, laughs, traffic …? Attention is a very dangerous metric when it becomes an end in itself. In the bid to cut through the clutter of the most intense ad-space, the temptation is to throw out all the rules just to get the looks. But if you raise awareness and compromise or confuse the integrity of your brand, was that moment’s notice really worth it? And if you just did it to get people talking about you, does that …

Huff or puff?

What to read into AOL’s acquisition of The Huffington Post for 32 times earnings? Another sign of a social media bubble? A bid for respectability by the corporate that, for many, has defined the unsuccessful merger? Just as importantly, I’m struggling to get my head around the brand compatibility. Huffington Post – smart, sassy, informed. AOL – huge (though nowhere near as big as it was), dial up, looking to get back some high ground. Seems like Huff is looking for scale here, while AOL is looking for the quality they believe will drive advertising sales. I hope this doesn’t turn into a bun-fight between resources and returns. I’d also hate to see Huff Post’s integrity and feisty character compromised by the juggernaut. And while Arianna Huffington herself may have done this partly because she’s worried that the Post is erring towards “the innovator’s dilemma” of sticking too closely to its strategy, I’m sure I don’t need to remind her that corporate history is littered with the wrecks of brands who tried to be too …