April 28, 2009

Humaine after all :)


The internet started out as a research tool but very quickly evolved into the commercial monster it is today. For too many people the internet is about vacuous entertainment, illegal activities and just general timewasting. But a crisis like the swine flu outbreak brings out the best side of the web.

In this Wired article “Tracking Internet Chatter Helps Spot Swine Flu Outbreak” we see how companies like Vertect are using the web to help doctors and health authorities monitor the swine flu situation. Hopefully they will help contain the problem and allow people to stop worrying and back to watching Susan Boyle on Youtube.

We’ve got your back… side

squatAn interesting article in Adweek talks about the struggle branded iPhone applications are having to grab attention is the midst of so many other apps. One of the few to have succeeded is Zippo. To quote from the article “last October they came out with a branded iPhone application that features a simple lighter on the screen. Since its introduction, the Virtual Zippo Lighter has been downloaded 3 million times, making it the most popular brand application on the iPhone platform”.

Other brands are trying another route. Rather than create a new app Proctor and Gamble approached an existing app to be their sponsor. Sit or Squat is an app that helps users find clean toilets. A perfect fit for their Charmin brand of toilet paper. As one of their spokesmen said “We’re not in the business of creating iPhone applications, we’re in the business of toilet paper.”

Just a thought. What if the app helps you find a toilet but there’s no paper? That would wipe the smile off P&G’s face.

Read the article here >

April 27, 2009

Fear, Love and Advertising

On April 21st, Steve Hayden, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, shared his perspectives on the convergence of advertising and technology, and showcased three innovations that “hold promise in this time of fear and love in the marketing and communications industries”. Speaking at ad:tech San Francisco he looked back at some stand-out creative campaigns to show that the current economic times should not be an excuse to limit creativity. I was not there unfortunately but was able to follow a lot of the presentation thanks to the Adrant blog. Click here for some excellent coverage. As well as talking about the Hayden Mandala, “a complex (and yet simple!) cycle of everything a person/brand goes through when facing a major growth trajectory or change”, he introduced some technologies that he believed would be shaping the future of advertising in the coming years. This ranged from interactive TV through to incredible 3D imaging software that made it easier and cheaper to create realistic images for print, TV and more. Reps from various companies demoed their products then the audience was introduced to Virginia Miracle (great name!!), SVP of Ogilvy PR’s Digital Influence Strategy group and a social media expert. On her blog she explains what she presented including some data visualisation showing the power of conversations between a target audience – allowing planners to develop customer-informed strategies rather than just “throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks”.

April 26, 2009

Brands matter

Was reading an interesting article on the Time website about how Apple are enjoying huge success with the iPhone and posting stunning results while other mobile companies like Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola are suffering. It talks about the power of branding and how the Apple brand is the main factor in making them buck the trend in today’s economic situation. Other manufacturers have similar handsets – as the artilce says “Samsung builds a smartphone that looks and works a lot like the iPhone. It is called the Instinct and Apple owners think it is junk”.

In some ways there is the question of fashion to take into account. A couple of hundreds of years ago no self respecting gentleman would have been caught without a powdered wig. It may not have been as technologicallly advanced as an iPhone but was just as essential. Today only judges and actors wear them. At which point did the general public put away their wigs for the last time? Was one poor guy the last one walking down the street with one on his head?

An interesting book by Douglas Atkins from a few years ago looks at the brand as a cult.Turning customers into believers. Atkin, a strategy director for a New York ad agency, believes “the process through which consumer brands build customer loyalty is equivalent to the way religious cults recruit members”.

Like many cults there are few with happy endings. The Motorola Razor phone became a cult item for a short time. Jennifer Garner used one in the series Alias to open a safe. Unfortunately they could not spread the love to their other products. Apple have managed to maintain their cult of design since the iPod became popular. They cannot afford too many flops like iBoombox speaker system (or whatever it was called). Have Apple found the magic formula for great brands? They are number 1 in the list of most admired brands. The pressure is on (not unlike Steve Jobs’ other cult – Pixar) to make sure the faithful remain happy.

Next time we see Steve Jobs maybe he’ll be wearing a powdered wig. Will Mac lovers everywhere do the same? Probably not. But it would look great with a black turtleneck.

April 22, 2009

Smart thinking on low budgets

At first digital agencies struggled for big budgets – especially compared to traditional advertising agencies. Online campaigns would have to be developed on a fraction of what would be spent on a TV. Crumbs from the table. Over the years things changed but in these lean times digital agencies have been able to adapt more easily to lower budgets since it wasn’t too long ago when that’s all they had. In this Adweek article we can read about some examples of this. Using low-cost platforms these agencies have been able to create engaging customer experiences that are all about great ideas rather than flashy content. Using blogs and social networking tools gives agencies “the ability to produce new work during a time of scaled-back budgets”. Of course there are still brands that must deliver a rich Flash site so as not to disappoint their audience. The new Coke Happiness Factory site is a perfect example of this.

Until the economy improves digital is going to continue offering the most effective and measurable way to connect with customers. Before an idea had to work across all media – now it should adapt to all budgets without losing its power.

April 21, 2009

Facebook Bootcamp for PR

Interesting presentation from the Ogilvy 360 degree digital influence group on using social networks for Buzz Marketing.

April 20, 2009

Interactive TV is here (again)

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — The emerging forces of set-top box and Internet Protocol TV interactivity are soon expected to change the nature of television-based advertising. But are the big advertising agencies ready to lead the way into this totally new environment? Speaking at the Age Age Digital Conference, Verizon Communications CMO John Stratton pointedly said he doesn’t think they are.

Watch the video here.

For a look at what the new generation of interactive TV will offer check out Yahoo! Connected TV >

Adobe just announces a deal to bring Flash to the TV screen. Read the story.

The promise of interactive TV has been around longer than mobile being the future of the internet. In many ways mobile is getting there a lot faster. No doubt it is the relative cheapness of mobile phones which has brought this about. I’m certainly not going to run out and buy a new TV set anytime soon. But very soon every new TV set will be web enabled. It’s going to become very interesting…

Don’t say “appvertising”. Just shut up and drive.


I’ve started reviewing branded iPhone apps on my Twitter account but ones that deserve more attention will get a mention here. The one developed for the BMW Z4 campaign is very well thought out. It ties in perfectly with the campaign and includes a “making-of” from the film and the possibility to create your own artwork with a game where you tilt the iPhone to steer the car. Although BMW has a history of collaborating with artists I find the artwork a little too close in spirit to Martina Navratilova’s tennis ball paintings.  Not that she puts much thought into her creativity – reminds me a little of the painting elephant. Anyway, there is a full version of the app promised soon. Look forward to seeing where they take it next. The BMW UK site also has an interesting augmented reality game but unfortunately this only works on PC.

Here is a link to the app. Not sure if it is available in all iTunes stores…

I’ve already seen people using the word Appvertising. Even though I can’t stand these made up words I’m sure I’m going to have to use it in a client presentation soon. It’s up there with webvertising and advertainment. I’m cringing as I write.

Is spam destroying the world?

It may be able to enhance your love life but according to a study by climate consultants ICF International and anti-virus firm McAfee spam can be blamed for the production of more than 33bn kilowatt-hours of energy every year, enough to power more than 2.4m homes. The Carbon Footprint of e-mail Spam report estimated that 62 trillion spam emails are sent globally every year.


How do email marketers cut through the crap and reach their audience in a legitimate way? How can you avoid being ignored, or even worse, going directly into the spam box? There is a real art/science behind the strategy, planning and execution of email campaigns. I have the pleasure of working on a regular basis with Tamara Gielen, an independent email marketing consultant, and she provides many useful insights on her website. Check it out here. Many companies are shifting from physical direct marketing to email. Experts like Tamara will be vital to make sure that their marketing dollars are not wasted. As for the creative aspects of email there are some great examples to be found. The site Campaign Monitor collects emails and comments on them. Very useful. But don’t forget – many people check their emails on mobile devices so make sure you have a killer subject line. It may be the only reason someone clicks.

April 17, 2009

Cooking up the perfect digital agency


Although this blog is inspired by David Ogilvy’s book is not going to be just about him. Saying that, I thought it could be interesting to cover some of the topics he wrote about but update them for the digital world.

His first chapter is called How to Manage an Advertising Agency, He starts by saying that it is not different from managing an other creative organization such as a research lab, magazine, architect’s office or even a kitchen (David Ogilvy was a chef in an earlier life). Over the years I’ve worked at various interactive agencies and even set up one from scratch. Looking at these and other successful digital agencies there are a few common factors that stand out. So how do you create & manage the perfect Interactive Advertising Agency? What’s the recipe for the ideal organization? It would be a mixture of some of the best agencies…


A slice of Razorfish

With strengths in quantitative and qualitative audience research capabilities, Avenue A | Razorfish broad experience creates a strong base for cross channel campaigns.

A bagful of R/GA

This is where creativity meets technology in startling new ways. A perfect example is Nike + which illustrates their approach of building communication platforms that attract and retain customers while weaving marketing and product together.

A cupful of Ogilvy

Brand-focused communication based on big ideas, all mixed up in a 360-degree approach that puts the customer at the centre. Traditional marketing and advertising has a lot to teach new media in terms of crafting the right message.

A little Organic

A strong belief in empathy-based experience design and flair for harnessing Web 2.0 technologies like YouTube, Flickr, and a Facebook applications this brings a lot of smart thinking into the mix.

A sprinkling of Sapient

Spice things up with excellent technology integration ranging from sophisticated transaction-based systems to interactive marketing platforms. For a digital campaign to provide a good customer experience your technology needs to be rock solid.

A dash of Digitas

Last but not least we need some robust measurement and analytics capabilities. Strong measurement and insight from that data is vital for the perfect agency combination.



Make sure your melting pot allows space for strategy and creative to really blend their thinking. Stir in real consumer insights rather than just what you think the target audience would like.

Look beyond digital. Adding traditional media to campaigns may result in a more startling outcome.

Raise the heat by experimenting with fresh ingredients. Be unafraid to explore new ideas or technologies but be careful not to get carried away with the flavour of the moment. Watch trends closely and take advantage of new ways to surprise your audience.

Don’t forget the human element. Each person in the team must pour their expertise and passion into the project in the right amounts. The best work is only possible with the perfect blend of strategy, creativity and technology…. all coordinated and delivered flawlessly.

Measure everything carefully to ensure the right balance of ingredients and to improve your recipe. Never be satisfied. Stay in beta.



The best digital agencies naturally present themselves in the best light. From the office environment through to their own digital marketing efforts. Seeing is believing and the ideal agency should look the part, walk the talk and be constantly striving to be the best. Even with all the right ingredients in place my perfect agency would always feel that it could be a little better.

A digital agency should never be bland. It should have contagious passion for great ideas and defend them to the end. Be brave to walk down new avenues and balance intelligence with ambition. Always staying hungry…


Bon appetit.


Thanks to Forrester and AdAge for a little inspiration.