Hello, Tomorrow???

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Few days back, Emirates published the opening of its new commercial and had the world anticipating and guessing what could be its amazing continuation.

“Who was this enigmatic Sir?” was the question being asked all over social media, all over the world.

Some speculated it was an old ‘Friends’ cast; some were even convinced it was ‘Brad Pitt’.

Imagination flowed, as it should have.

Stories were built…beautiful ones.

I, from my side, was expecting the start of an Epic, à la Nespresso campaign, featuring George Clooney and Jean Dujardin.

I was expecting Emirates to leap into awesomeness, and make us dream. Something only Emirates could do.

I could not expect less from the world’s best airlines.

 

Then came 5pm yesterday, the much anticipated reveal rendez-vouz.

I was on the road and as soon as I stopped at traffic lights, I reached for my phone with such a ridiculous enthusiasm and…

Here was the ‘KID’.

The enthusiasm that started few days back, turned 20 seconds later, into a jaw dropping disappointment.

The Epic I had in mind turned out to be a trip into lame-land.

This much anticipated ad stank of ‘ticked marketing boxes’.

I could almost hear the brand teams shouting out in the background:

‘Let’s add a kid, it would be so cute…and emotional…oh and let’s make him dream of becoming a pilot…. an Emirates pilot!’

‘Where is my family…. Families constitute 56% of our passengers, WE NEED TO HAVE A FAMILY!’

‘What about Economy Class??? We need to highlight that our Economy class is comfortable…”

 

What I was hoping to be one of the best ads of the month, turned out to be a trip into the mundane, a story where ‘Jen’ is so comfortable in Economy that she doesn’t want to return to her First Class Cabin….

Seriously Emirates? Who will buy this?

I have been flying Emirates for the past 20 years. It is my favorite Airlines, and probably the worlds’ too.

You had a chance to build an epic and become the World’s best advertiser and inspire us a bit more. Make us dream like only you could. But instead, you succumbed to these boxes that needed to be ticked.

I will keep hoping that one day, your communication will be as good as the amazing experience you offer…

Maybe, tomorrow???

R.K


What does Obesity have to do with Advertising?

Peter Attia

This talk is interesting not only from a nutrition & health perspective (it might lead to a debunking of some long held beliefs about obesity & diabetes) but because of the scientific thought process behind it which we could learn from. It shows a willingness to challenge the pre-accepted hypothesis and to develop empathy with a situation rather than just passing quick judgement.

It is a demonstration of open minds, courage to throw out yesterday’s hypothesis, and a recognition that scientific truth isn’t final but constantly evolving.

So how can we learn from this for our own industry? For me there are two points:

First, although advertising is not a science but we should try to make it so – for example we search for an insight just like researchers looking for Cholinesterase inhibitors treating Alzheimers. The difference is that we shouldn’t debate, procrastinate and pontificate over it but instead invest in a true process of discovery.

Second, even when we do uncover an amazing insight, the enchantment of great advertising is not actually the insight itself but about taking a straight forward insight and turning it into something amazing.

The point is that ultimately advertising is an entertainment / creative & social industry. Maybe we shouldn’t be over-thinking creativity and searching for a holy grail, and instead just letting go of our inhibitions and enjoying ourselves (just like when we watch something that engages us). Let’s be honest with ourselves – these days whether a campaign for a noble humanitarian cause or the next big Soda campaign, the life span of an idea is a few days / weeks with a # before something else takes its place. So let’s be nimble, let’s be flexible, let’s search for entertaining ideas rather than unequivocal truths because there are very few unequivocal truths in the world, but many points of connection.

I’d like to leave you with this message from Joi Ito. If innovation has been broken down and democratized, then it’s right for advertising to be also broken down and democratised. The future is about not getting bogged down in words and statements and more about quick prototyping, experimenting, learning to trust the team and building on each others ideas. This doesn’t take the responsibility off strategic rigour, but it recognises that advertising just like Science and Innovation is about experimenting, coming up with quick iterations, building and breaking hypothesis and then getting to the point where we can make a creative leap to something fresh yet useful.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

#newwaysofworking.
Brenda.


Empty Promises

Sometimes I am so inspired by certain things in business. These days SME’s and Entrepreneurs in the region are doing things differently to the way they had been before the new economy. They are customer service oriented and in fact they are a direct result of errors (read: opportunities) that have arisen from old ways of working. A few businesses are really reaching out to their customers and being open and transparent and providing added-value.

But then, I read and / or experience certain things and realize that some people / organizations are not yet hitting the mark.

Like this proud claim I read on a piece of communication recently: “The Largest Loyalty program in the region”.

What exactly does that mean? Is it the largest by number of subscribers? Or the largest by number of outlets that are part of the program? In any case, how does either of those benefit the consumers who are part of the program? What is the real benefit of belonging to the program?

So to those organizations who are still selling empty promises, there is a lot of merit to being the biggest and largest – but if you can translate that to something more tangible and rewarding, which will actually benefit your consumers you will find your business and your people (customer and employee) relationships will benefit.

Have a positive day :)

Brenda.


A Chef is not just an expert on saucepans.

I interact with a few of my very favorite brands (and thinkers) on various social media networks. These are brands that kind of hold the same values and world view as myself. I enjoy receiving useful bits of information about various topics from them. What distinguishes these brands from other brands I merely follow is that I like to show them my support – I ‘like’ things they post and I sometimes participate in conversations they initiate by posting comments and answering questions, retweeting and repinning.

But recently I’ve started to question this ‘loyalty’. Because if I’ve taken the time to ‘like’ and comment and interact with a brand, then I believe the least the brand can do is recognise this relationship/support.

I believe that good brands should act like good friends. Is that the way good brands would treat their friends? By ignoring them?

I think that social media has been used as an updated form of push marketing rather than a genuine attempt to connect with people (albeit brands push their messages out to people who have opted into the messages). Social media is such a great way to connect with people but when not used properly, it just highlights a brands opportunistic and selfish tendancies. Any brand / employee can be given the tools to connect, but very few brands (and employees) really understand how to talk and how to treat people.

Here are my issues:

Why don’t brands link their customers online and offline interactions?

Why don’t brands reward customers who support them online?

Why don’t brands use social media as a form of customer support and customer service?

If I was a brand owner / custodian I’d make sure that I connected the people who most commonly interact with me to some sort of loyalty or ‘appreciation’ program. I would send them a little note “Dear friend, next time you’re *at the cafe / at the mall / shopping for shoes* we’d like to shout you a coffee, because you’re special to us!”.

I think it’s time we built smart database or eCRM programs that connect people’s social media activity to the real world. Databases that value people not numbers, interactions not merely transactions.

That’s how I’d treat my friends and supporters.

But that’s just me.

~ Brenda.


Let’s Live…

Brands live in an era where the conversation is constantly evolving.

And the consumer is controlling the megaphone.

Consider this carefully then.

Should your brand still be speaking in cavemanic?

Or pursuing a near extinction thought process?

We don’t think so.

That’s why we believe in not being another dinosaur.

We are led by talent.

Motivated by honesty.

Fascinated by new technology.

Obsessed with the conversation.

And don’t believe in waiting for the future but rather in creating it.


We live so that brands can.

Let’s live. 


The GOOSE, The BAT and the UGLY

“They hate you.

All Agencies hate you!

What have you done?

They hear ‘Livingroom’  and they fume in anger!”

mentioned a well-connected friend, few days back.

 

“That’s what I call a compliment…a great one.

A tribute to a one-year-old company, obsessed with changing the rules of the advertising game”

I said.

 

I wouldn’t have hoped for better.

 

 

 

 

So Dinosaurs hate us….why wouldn’t they:

We’re not another clone. We will never be one.

Their best talents are flirting with us.

Their clients are seeking us.

We know them inside out whilst they don’t have a clue about our core values and the way we operate.

We’re playing it fair and winning pitches right left and center with a success rate they dream of.

And, we’re doing that humbly without shouting it off the roofs.

We’re the orange sheep standing out of the herd.

We’re the UGLY

And proud to be.

 

 

 

 

…And if you’re wondering about the GOOSE and the BAT,

it’s our latest great win in an 9-way pitch involving the ‘biggest’ and ‘mightiest’,

and this, I am sure, will fuel their “hate”.

So keep hating…

It’s our greatest pleasure.

Cheers.


A relationship company.

One of the (many) characteristics of Apple which leads to its success is them being a ‘people company’ – natural, real, and employing the best people and then trusting them. No beauracracy, appreciating differences, open and honest.

This is evident in the relationship they had with a startup called Transitive, based in Manchester UK. Transitive is the company behind the Rosetta technology, which allowed Apple to introduce Intel processors into Macs in 2005, thus opening them up to a wider audience.

Co-founder of Transitive Alasdair Rawsthorne, said this about working with Apple:

“Apple was a wonderful company to work with, they’re very relationship oriented. As soon as we got the contract in place it was like we were working for the same side – it was a very single-minded development.”

Steve Jobs’ final piece of advice to his friend and now CEO of Apple was “don’t think about ‘what Steve would do’, think about what YOU would do”. In other words – trust yourself, like I trust you.

Simple amazing.

Brenda.


Who can you trust?

You’d be amazed at all the wild and wonderful thoughts and connections one makes whilst on maternity leave, especially in the quiet hours of the night when most people are sleeping! But those thoughts fade away with the sunrise and ideas turn quickly to the daily grind instead.

But now I have a moment.

This morning i read an interesting article about milk production (Not your grandma’s milk). I know not many people are as interested as I am in the fraud, corruption and lack of integrity of the food industry but, what the article showed was that the milk we are drinking is not what we think it is.

Now, if we cant trust the companies who bring us milk – a wholesome, supposedly pure and healthy drink – then I think we need to reconsider and question just what is happening to our society and our relationships. Who can we trust?

Trust is a powerful human emotion, which has been eroded over the recent past and especially in light of the financial crisis, corporate scandals (Murdoch, BP), government corruption etc.

Increasingly it seems less and less people, brands, corporations, are worthy of our trust. And if they are not worthy of our trust, then are they worthy of our loyalty and expenditure?

On the other hand, brands who we can trust are brands we can love, respect and reward.

So if I was a brand or marketing manager, I’d be very keen on gaining people’s trust through my superior product performance, quality parts or ingredients, intuitive customer service, honest CSR activities and other faces of my brand.

If only things were that simple ;-)

Brenda.


How to get to where you want to go.

I think ‘strategy’ is the most over used word in this industry.  Too often it is misunderstood, and too often people use it inter-changeably with just ‘a thought’.

Good strategy is creative, just like good creative has to be strategic.

Good strategy is a jump from the mundane. It’s based on an idea. It makes a statement about what the brand is up to. Following from this people either buy into the brand or they don’t.

When you think about campaigns like Avis’s ‘we try harder’, or Honda’s ‘power of dreams’ it is very obvious what the brand is up to, the strategy stands out.

Here are some jump starters for writing good communication strategy:

1. Develop an insight or story, and then summarise it as a strategy.

2. Think ‘what is my creative angle on this problem’ what’s the larger than life proposition to the world?

3. Think ‘what is my point of view’ on a subject matter?

4. Work out what it is your brand or product is ‘against’ – what do you oppose?

5. What is the consumer benefit? How do we demonstrate this in the creative?

6. The problem – Great ideas start with big problems. What is the consumer problem you are trying to solve?

Your position – What is your position on the things that the consumer cares about? Show you care about the problem. For example: ‘The campaign was created to communicate the Pampers brand’s philosophy that children perceive the world very differently from adults, even the simplest things are opportunities to learn and experiment, and children should be given the freedom and comfort to do so’

Your promise – The promise is the way in which you (implicitly or explicitly) prove to the consumer your credibility in holding that position and what you intent to do about it. E.g.: ‘Pampers provides comfort to your child so they can be free to experiment’.

The Brand Idea – This is an outward facing crystallisation of the position and promise. It’s the brands point of view ‘Look at the world through the eyes of a child’.

7. What do we want the target market to think, feel, do?

8. What is our unique ownable property? The unique aspect that only our product / service has? It could be a product feature, something inherent in our design. For example:

  • FJ Cruiser’s unique retro look, going back to basics, the type you can use for a long time – product concept is ‘the rebirth of rugged’,
  • Audi’s Vorsprung durch Technik, How can we relate that to the key proposition?
 A brief needs to be built around an idea, and an idea is worthless unless it delivers against a strategy.

Today, good brand strategy is based on mutual benefit, takes into account sustainability. Is transparent and honest.

Till next time, enjoy!

Brenda.


Correcting our regions’ short sightedness.

Correcting our shortsightedness

How often do you hear that a client is pitching its account after a long and successful marriage with its agency (i.e. more than 5 years)? Not very often? Because it doesn’t happen in this region. Clients here are not so loyal.

Actually it’s the psyche of the entire region. There are no loyalties except to those who appear ‘popular’ at a certain point in time. When something is a new fad (e.g. the latest hotel, the newest café, the newest trend), everyone runs to be part of it. But before you know it, the buzz inevitably runs out and people go searching for other new things to latch onto.

In the communication industry, on an individual level (apart from a handful of people who have built their media empires from the oil boom of the past decades and become sort of industry ‘icons’), a person or company can be the darling of the regional award scene one year, and hardly get a mention the next.

And how often do you hear that a project you’ve been working on for what seems like ages has been dropped, just like that? Perhaps it wasn’t well planned to start with?

Whatever the manifestation of this lack of loyalty and impromptu decisions, the reason we have arrived at this situation, I believe, is twofold:

1. Collectively we don’t have enough patience

When I started my communications career overseas, it was not rare to read headlines like ‘Reebok parts with its agency after 25 years’ or ‘Burger King parts with its agency after 15 years’. The reasons for parting was often because of a deep change in the philosophy or vision of one or both of the parties. The split was usually amicable and not really a surprise to either.

Like any good relationship, a client /agency /brand relationship strengthens and improves over time. Agencies need to be given the time it takes to truly understand and help shape a brand they are working on. And to learn from the mistakes that might happen along the way. And to follow a vision they and their client have for the brand. And to foster customer relationships.

But all too often in our region, the agency turnaround on a brand is too quick, and agencies are not treated as true partners in a relationship. They are dropped at a whim and clients find it too easy to call for a pitch or award the business to another more ‘friendly’ agency.

2. We don’t value spending time planning before building

We don’t spend time when building brands.

And brands don’t spend time building brand communities.

And clients don’t spend time building their agency or their customer relationships.

And corporations don’t spend time building their staff or their reputations.

 

I think there are many reasons for this lack of long term loyalty and planning culture:

Sadly, most clients have a high staff turnover, and the new team wants to work with people they are used to. So they fire the old agency and wheel in a new one.

And the region seems for many to be transient, a stop for a few years to make some money and live a life they wouldn’t ordinarily lead back home. So they don’t have any interest in long term planning and would rather implement because that’s what looks good on the CV.

Or it could be the lack of quality (qualitative) research being done by clients and agencies to truly understand the consumer in the market and their deep desires and motives. And most importantly the different cultures, deeply ingrained traditions, beliefs and habits held in the region.

And, (this might sound harsh) but I think there are many people who don’t know how to plan. And don’t know how to maintain a good relationship.

So what?

I think we are all worse off because of this lack of patience and commitment to longevity. The brand loses continuity and focus, the client loses, the customers lose and as individuals we lose the gratification that comes from seeing a brand grow and develop. The region is worse off because we lose our identity. Communication starts to feel superficial, not connected with the audience, and there is no continuity in the brand/ corporate conversation.

What do we about it? I don’t have the answers – but for a start, clients need to be educated in how to deal with their agencies and rewarded for maintaining agency relationships. They need to learn that a good agency is an asset that can help them and their brand shine.

We need to start having open, honest and transparent conversations based on mutual trust and win-win situations. Clients need to start treating agencies as partners rather than having a client vs. agency attitude. That’s what we’re trying to do here at Livingroom.

What about you? What’s your experience with your client or agency? I’d like to hear your point of view.

Brenda.