Posts filed under ‘companies’

Google Street View in Germany

I was driving home from work today when I saw the google street view camera car, opened my window and waved. So looks like I will be on the street view when you look for Bockenheimer Warte. ūüôā

Streetview is coming to 3 German cities: Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin, and this has gotten some weird press. Germans are very privacy-sensitive, more so than other nationalities, anyway. But some of the arguments against Street View, while possible, or even true, seem petty, paranoid and irrelevant. Basically, it seems like an exercise in neo-luddite nay-saying in the name of the people.

For example, sure thieves can stake out neighborhoods and look for nice cars to steal, but you would still have to know where to look, and you would still need to go there to stake it out. Or the fact that some people don’t like other people looking at their house. Hello? What about all those people walking by your house? Wanna blind-fold them? And people who don’t like being in the pictures (even though their faces are blurred out)? Going by this standard, you couldnt send a TV camera crew to film anything in the city, either. Those arguments seem contrived and designed to make people paranoid.

In a Tagesschau Poll, people here seem pretty muchdivided on the issue and the press is trying to make it look a bit negative.

I for one think street view rocks and I am happy it is coming to my town.

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July 15, 2008 at 6:09 pm 20 comments

Wheel of Marketing Misfortune

I loved this article by David Armano and his Wheel of Marketing Misfortune. It’s a fresh way to exhort everyone in the digital marketing business to just, you know, chill out a bit.

Read the whole thing here.

July 9, 2008 at 4:33 pm 1 comment

The long tail: digital myth or not?

The “long tail” has been a theory accepted as fact in the digital community. It described and explained what we believed in so well, and it all makes sense. In fact, to some of us it was a source of credibility for whatever it was we’re doing, selling, or referring to: the power of the individual, individual experiences, tailored and customized offerings in a distributed and digital world that makes all of that possible.

Now, some people are rocking the boat and saying that it was all a hoax. Not a surprise, really. Every theory has a counter-theory. Surprising is that it took this long.

http://tinyurl.com/3rg5gp

Found on Alan’s friendfeed

July 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

On PR 2.0 and killing version numbers

In our network, we also have a global PR agency. Recently,we have been working more closely with them, and it’s been a great experience that has given me insights about a totally different way to work on brands. In this collaboration, I’ve come to notice the changes that are going on in the PR world too. Obviously, the fact that everything has changed for traditional marketing communication because people have been empowered by digital technologies has also arrived in the PR world. In fact, the say they knew it before the old traditional agencies even started thinking about changing their ways.

And some of that is true. If we look at Al Ries’ book “The fall of advertising, the rise of PR” which was authored around 2000, we can see that the trend was there for many to see. And it is true, that in the type of brand work PR agencies do, they have always focused on the more immediate human opinion and context in which they can positively influence brand opinion. But the thing is: it’s not that PR agencies were rising by because their work got better, or their approach drastically different. Isn’t it more likely that traditional agencies, which were the main mass media opinion shapers for brands started sucking? Or to be fair: ad agencies were conveniently repressing the fact that mass media started bleeding its effectiveness to digital channels and 1:1 and social media interactions.

What will be interesting for me to observe is: will PR agencies make some of the mistakes that ad agencies made? Like: “Hey, here’s an idea, we’ll just start an interactive agency that can adapt our stuff online,” or will they be less prone to the “channel-adaptation” mistake? I think they might. Why? Well, since the PR guy’s job is to influence opinion of people in a way that is different to regular mass media communication (the staple of the ad agency), it has always been about word-of-mouth, even before the web. Think about it: if, on one side, you have an expert of influencer opinion and how to use it to influence others, and, on the other side, an expert on creating single-minded propositions for mass media: who has an advantage in a landscape where single-minded messages are being fragmented, spoofed, barely measureable, and generally ineffective and where everyone can have an opinion, influence product design, brands and author about everything on a free blog? Yes, it’s definitely the PR guy, not the ad guy. So this is where they have the leg up, but I think they’ve had this advantage rather unconsciously. Now that the web is mainstream, even traditional PR (even if it was more modern than the traditional ad business by design), has to think about PR 2.0 just like advertising has to think about advertising 2.0. And they do, and they might want to break some of the negative PR stereotypes as they go along.

Okay, you say, but digital agencies obviously knew before. Yes they did, and if we again look at Al Ries’ book, you will notice it doesn’t even go into any detail of the potential of how digital channels are changing peoples’ behavior. And here is my point: while some PR agencies had started working closer to the context of the people in order to influence human behavior than traditional ad agencies, most of them still did it in a traditional channel mindset. The reevaluation of what a traditional ad agency has to do, or if in fact, it is still advertising it needs to create, is also taking place consciously in the PR world now. In fact, the question is: if the word “advertising agency” is pass√©, is “public relations” also a bit yesteryear?

The funny thing is, as the process of redefining the ad agency and the PR agency is underway, look at the schools of thought out there on this topic:

  • Markets are conversations, not messages
  • it’s about listening not talking
  • Engage people on their level, not as abstract consumers, insulting their intelligence
  • and so on and so on…

Doesn’t¬†that sound all too¬†familiar? Isn’t everyone saying the same thing?

Yeah, again, nothing new¬†to anyone who worked in a digital agency,¬†in, say 1995. The only difference is: now everyone is talking about it and it’s mainstream, oh, and bandwidth is better.¬†This is good, mind you, but it¬†also let’s me beg EVERYONE who works in this industry, whether they are in ad agencies, PR agencies, media agencies, digital agencies and even marketing people: don’t we all say the same thing, no matter who said it first, or who put out the best “integrated” campaign? Can’t we just¬†decide that communication is a people business,¬†not a brand business and that therefore everything¬†we do should start with¬†people, not brands, or products or categories or¬†marketing toolkits?

And for chrissakes, can’t we stop putting version numbers on our respective displines (advertising 2.0, web2.0, PR2.0 and media 2.0) just because we want to tell everyone¬†that we¬†finally got the fact that people are in control?

Acts, not ads!

PS: I will be off on a vacation, so there will be no posts for a while.. Cheers.

May 26, 2008 at 1:26 pm 2 comments

Stating the obvious: Online Social Media generate awareness, influences opinion.

Okay, sometimes I have to repeat stuff I’ve already said before, even if it is the equivalent of stating the obvious. I do this usually when I find a study with an air of scienctific credibility that supports something that is being talked about, but lacks the digits.

In this case, I stumbled upon an article in Adweek which states that a new study was release proving that some of the most desirable consumers use the opinions of others from blogs, and social media applications to make their purchasing decisions. In fact, 74% of people polled do this. Of course this means that the brand message and promise seems to be becoming less important than what other people say about the brand and customer experience they have had. Which in turn means, that mass media advertising is becoming less important. Thanks for the statistics, but as I said, it’s still a “duh-moment.”

Still, I like it when marketing people are quoted with something that is a Heureka moment to them. Here it is:

“This study indicates that there is a growing group of highly desirable consumers using social media to research companies,” said Ganim Nora Barnes, a senior fellow at SNCR, in a statement. This demo includes adults 25-55 with a college education, making over $100,000 a year. “These most savvy and sought-after consumers will not support companies with poor customer care reputations, and they will talk about all of this openly with others via multiple online vehicles. This research should serve as a wake-up call to companies: listen, respond, and improve.”

Yeah. Stop making advertising to generate awareness if you cannot listen, respond and improve. Otherwise you will get grilled and served with a slice of lemon on a nice “ineffective traditional advertising sampler platter.”

April 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

A (beer) case of handling an inconvenient product truth

Charging more for the same thing is difficult, but people are used to things getting more expensive. You usually don’t even tell them. They are used to it and they know. But when you charge the same for less, things get a bit tricky. You better tell them.

This is exactly what cult-brand Astra Beer tried to do after they took 3 bottles out of the case without lowering the price. They let the brand’s fun personality do the job: Show a lady who got a boob job holding the new beer case and say: “Didn’t somebody change something?”. It is funny (and funnier in German) for sure and matches Astra’s tonality which people love so much. After all, it is one of the only beer brands in Germany that isn’t conservative and boring.

Only problem with this picture might be that, while the boob job visibly provided for MORE , the beer job didn’t. Since people are smart enough to figure that out, it all depends on whether people will let the brand get away for just being funny about this inconvenient truth.

Thanks to Dirk for bringing back the flier from Hamburg.

April 21, 2008 at 11:38 am Leave a comment

People are not the problem. Marketing warfare is.

What’s been frying my goat for a while lately (like 10 years or so) is looking at how we conduct our business in the agency landscape. We use military words like Briefing, Strategy, Tactics, Campaign, Target, Territory, Launch and Positioning everyday. I am wondering what good it does using this language of war. Everyone says that marketing is war. Is it? War against what?

Let’s ask Billy Bob, a traditional, gun-toting marketer who believes marketing is war:

Billy Bob: I tell you who we’re fightin’, buddy. It’s them dang evil-doer consumers. These folks are conspirin’ against us, leadin’ a lawless digital lifestyle, creat’n’ all this brand brouhaha for us marketers, destroying our brand values and shooting web2.0 flak right down from the blogosphere and what have you. If we don’t strike them with a big nice nuclear promotion, we be fixin’ to go down with our brand reputation. So, I am asking you: are you with us or with the consumers?

Personally, Billy Bob, I believe war is not an answer. We’ve been seeing this for a long time and we’ve been turning our faces away, hoping this Internet thing would just go away. Fact is, we’ve just made it a war because we see human behavior as something we need to manipulate and change, and we made it marketing’s job to manipulate that human behavior. Also of course, it is our job to build a ridgid brand fortress, that can defend itself against its enemies, the competition. Now that digital technologies have empowered people and changed the rules of the game, it isn’t as easy to manipulate people, and advertising just doesn’t seem to work anymore. And, for lack of a better idea, what’s our response? More troops for the trenches, bigger defense budgets, more artillery.

Because the Billy Bob Marketing budget for ineffective advertising, whether in “traditional” or “digital” channels, is steadily rising, no matter how inefficient. As a result, to stay within the militaristic metaphor we seem so used to, “consumers” soon become “casualties of war.” Well, I guess, you know, such is war. I mean, we tried to use our smart micro-segmentation bombs and even put 10% of our budget into our magic digital targeted media bullet, but you’re always gonna get some collateral damage, right? After all, this is why we call those casualties consumers: this way they remain abstract and we don’t have to connect with their actual life.

Seriously, this terminology, and more importantly, the warped thinking behind it isn’t appropriate anymore, and maybe never was. So if you’re asked by Billy Bob to support the troops in advertising and marketing , it’s just not black and white anymore. All I know is: I don’t wanna support the troops and their strategic goals of “increasing brand awareness” or “building brand preference” or “driving brand consideration” if all I get is an unhuman, purposeless advertising carpet bombing campaign. This marketing warfare myth has to go. The point is, you can’t work like that anymore.

Ok, sure. Let’s say we all agree. How would we go about everything if we stripped out all this militaristic lingo and the thinking behind it?

  1. Don’t just think about positioning in “what is…”, think about “what if?”
  2. Don’t start with the category, the product or the brand. Because, guess what, you will end up where you left off.
  3. Instead, start with a purpose. A purpose, mind you, not a promise. A purpose needs a conviction, a reason for being and a fuel that amplifies it. Fuel comes from a human behavior that we want to enable.
  4. Based on this purpose, think of acts that a brand can create to enable that human behavior in positive ways, instead of just cranking out ads.
  5. Don’t think of creativity as idea generation for campaigns, think of creativity as ideas for experiences and valuable exchanges.
  6. Don’t message at people, message for something they believe in.
  7. Don’t call them consumers, call them people.

Peace out, y’all.

March 19, 2008 at 7:34 pm 3 comments

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