August 31, 2009

How to keep (digital) clients


Back to the inspiration for this blog, David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man. Over time I’m looking at every chapter of his book and updating it for the digital age we live in. When writing about how to keep clients David says that the “seven-year itch is not confined to matrimony. It also afflicts the relationship between advertising agents and their clients”. When clients get bored with an agency they start looking elsewhere. Then if the worst happens and the agency loses the business they have to fire people who worked on that client. As David said, “advertising is probably the least secure of all careers”.

How do you hold onto your clients? Firstly by putting the best brains you have on the business and making sure they don’t neglect the client. It does help (as David says) to avoid clients with a record of regularly changing agencies. He also recommends keeping in contact at every level of a client’s organization with counterparts building strong relationships between client and agency. Something that should be a lot easier today thanks to email, Linkedin and intranets.

In today’s digital age there are other things to do if you want to keep your client coming back. Make sure you know more about the industry than your client. Sounds obvious but several times I’ve seen clients bring up some new technology or online campaign during a meeting that the agency has not seen. It’s hard to know everything that happens in our business but by creating an agency culture of research and sharing you can be sure that at least someone in your team knows something your client doesn’t. We need to continually inspire our clients by sending them reports of what’s new, how various trends are developing and what their competitors are doing. If budgets allow you can organize an event like the recent Digital Souk produced by Ogilvy London that showcased the latest digital developments.

angrymanOne thing guaranteed to generate discontent in clients is a disappointing experience with a campaign. When digital projects kick off it is so important to manage expectations. Some clients have trouble imagining the end product so do what is necessary to make them understand. Animated storyboards, white sites, customer journeys… they all help to guide the client to an understanding of what they are going to end up with. See how much planning went into the Get the Glass game to help the client understand how it would work. Add the fact that many digital productions are just one part in a bigger integrated campaign and things get more complex. This white paper from Creativity and HP has some great case studies on how projects were handled and clients made very happy.

Be careful what you say about clients or campaigns. I’ve heard stories of clients leaving meetings at an agency and riding the elevator with junior creative teams who they did not know. The junior guys (not knowing who these people were) starting ranting about how the client sucked. The business went down the elevator and out of the door. Today it is even easier for someone in the agency to vent their feelings online. Make sure your staff don’t blog or tweet their unhappiness because your client might end up seeing it.

Finally, David Ogilvy was proud to say that he used all his client’s products as a sign of respect and belief in their quality. When working on the Intel business years ago we could not present a mockup of a new website if it was framed in a Mac browser window (before Apple started using the devil’s chips). You may not be able to afford some of your client’s products but try to be as passionate about them as they are. When your client feels that you genuinely care about what you’re selling he won’t go looking elsewhere in a hurry.

August 24, 2009

Exploiting Chaos – The first chapter

chaosJeremy Gutsche, innovation expert and founder of, has just released his new book Exploiting Chaos. It’s the perfect antidote for our times when many companies have a negative outlook and can’t see how they can succeed in the downturn. But, as the book’s blurb points out, “Hewlett-Packard, Disney, Hyatt, MTV, CNN, Microsoft, Burger King, and GE all started during periods of economic recession? Periods of uncertainty fuel tremendous opportunity, but they also reshuffle the deck and change the rules of the game. That’s where EXPLOITING CHAOS comes in”.

As bestselling author Daniel Pink notes, “EXPLOITING CHAOS is a rousing battle cry for the kind of creative, risky thinking that is most needed in times of change and disorder”.

Here are a few quotes about the book:

“Love the book – best book on innovation I’ve read and I get 10 a week.”
– John Jantsch, Author of Duct Tape Marketing

“The cutting edge as we contemplate what’s next for brands, commerce and consumerism.”
– Marian Salzman, Futurist, CMO of Porter Novelli

“Not surprisingly, it’s hot, hip and absolutely worth talking about.”
– Dave Balter, CEO BzzAgent, Author of The Word of Mouth Manual

If you don’t take their word for it then listen to Einstein’s three rules of work as mentioned in the foreword:

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.”

“From discord, find harmony.”

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

To help you start Exploiting Chaos and fight the crisis you can read the first chapter for free by clicking here.

August 16, 2009

Kings of Data

mlewis_maex03Advertising is a business where all too often it is the creative people who get most of the credit. As they stand there holding up their trophies at another award ceremony they are very unlikely to thank the data analyst who help shape the campaign that just won.

Meet Dimitri Maex, he runs Ogilvy’s analytical team. His recent profile in a Fortune magazine article highlights how much the number crunchers are beginning to be a force in the advertising world. When a client like Cisco paid more attention to him than the creative team during a presentation he knew his time had come. As the article says, “After years of calling the shots, the traditional Mad Men of advertising — the creative types who cooked up memorable sell-lines like “the ultimate driving machine” — are increasingly sharing the spotlight with, you guessed it, the nerds”.

Of course the recession has helped people like Dimitri take center stage as it “made advertisers hungrier for proof that their multimillion-dollar campaigns are working”. Clients have also been looking for new ways to compensate agencies. As the article tells us “Coke is starting to grade its agencies based on four criteria, including sales and market share gains. The new compensation model will be introduced in 35 markets this year and is expected be rolled out to all of Coke’s agencies worldwide by 2011. Agencies that perform have the chance to pocket 30% above their costs — far more than they make under the old fee system”.

To learn how data influences campaigns read the article.

radiohead1I want to look at another Data King. This time it is someone that takes raw data and transforms it into something truely beautiful. Aaron Koblin works at Google Creative Labs and has been playing with data for years producing projects such as the visualisation of SMS messages in Amsterdam, the flight patterns of more than 205,000 different aircraft being monitored by the FAA on August 12, 2008 and even a music video for Radiohead.

Watch a fascinating presentation by Aaron here to discover how he works his magic with data.

The creative kings are not dead. They just need to learn to work together with the other masters of their domains – the kings of data. Together they make a powerful alliance.

August 11, 2009

Welcome to the Code War

google-qr-code1Bing vs. Google, Facebook vs. Twitter, Microsoft vs. Apple… the tension is increasing on a daily basis these days. It feels awfully similar to the Cold War of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Wikipedia describes it this way. “The Cold War (1945-91) was the continuing state of political conflict, military tension, and economic competition existing after World War II (1939-45), between the USSR and its satellite states, and the powers of the Western world, led by the United States. Although the primary participants’ military forces never officially clashed directly, they expressed the conflict through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, a nuclear arms race, espionage, proxy wars, propaganda, and technological competition, e.g. the space race”.

The Code War involves search engine algorithms, copycat functionalities, tit for tat increases in storage space for webmail and big guns swallowing up the little guys. So we’re seeing Facebook buying Friendfeed since they couldn’t get Twitter. Microsoft couldn’t nab Yahoo! so they wait their time then screw them with what will no doubt turn into a shitty deal (it already has made Carol Bartz look dumb). Apple blocks Google Voice from the iPhone. Retaliation? Their CEO steps down from the Apple board and they put Voice on the Palm Pre.

But what does this all mean for the advertising industry. Well they seem to applaud the deal between Microsoft and Yahoo! All this innovation is creating great opportunities for clever marketing. As soon as a new technology is announced the advertising and marketing folk seek new ways to exploit it. Social networks, HD online video, apps… these may all be weapons of mass consumption to attract the internet public – but for agency strategists, creatives and technologists they are shiny new toys for them to play with. Keep them coming!

August 10, 2009

Inside the story

you-choose-the-endingDigital media is allowing us to find new ways to engage with an audience. Through interactive storytelling people are being drawn into marketing campaigns in a truly powerful way. This recent example for the Metropolitan Police uses a special YouTube channel with a multi-path story that is determined by the choices made by the viewer. You immediately see the consequences of carrying a knife.

The other thing that is taken very seriously in the UK is the consumption of crisps. A new campaign for Doritos and their mystery new flavour also uses storytelling but draws you into a fictional world. The excellent DigitalBuzz blog reported that “The ID3 Advergame allows players to go undercover to help unlock the truth behind a mysterious case of mistaken identity in a ‘choose your own adventure’ style game. Each episode contains a mixture of fully interactive 3D levels, sound recognition, interactive scenes, and film content”.

Taking things one step further – and recognising the popularity of social media – it’s uniquely integrated with Facebook Connect, so the advergame pulls content directly from the player’s Facebook profile and then dynamically inserts it into the film footage. Where most applications with Facebook Connect technology use it simply to populate a profile, iD3 uses it to personalise the entire game and extend it directly into Facebook.

Doritos iD3 like being inside your own BBC drama series and gives the brand a great platform to engage with the audience over a period of time. You can take a look here but you won’t get far without the unique pack codes (sorry, can’t help). These forms of branded entertainment are helping to connect people with campaigns in a way that will hopefully change their behaviour. Whether it is to stop carrying weapons or to eat more crisps… digital is providing new tools to help marketers meet their goals.

But let’s not forget storytelling in its simplest form. It doesn’t have to be interactive to be clever as this new, long-form online video for Johnny Walker proves. A great script, amazingly acted (check out that timing) and beautifully shot just can’t be beat.

August 6, 2009

Deadly sins for the Internet age


The Pope recently declared that social networking is bad for the soul. While he is praying for the downfall of Facebook he may not be aware that there is a bigger problem with the Internet. It is full of temptation and turns surfers into sinners before you can tweet Hail Mary. To help his holiness I’ve compiled a list of deadly sins 2.0 with a little help from Wikipedia.

Extravagance (Latin, luxuria) is unrestrained excess. Extravagant behaviour includes the frequent purchase of luxury goods, and forms of debauchery.

It’s so easy to spend money online. One-click and you’ve bought something you don’t really need. You get obsessed with winning that eBay auction to the point of staying up all night to make a bid in the last 10 seconds. While you are not buying you are drooling over gadgets or reading reviews of cars you can’t afford. Repent before it is too late – put that credit card back where it belongs. Or donate what you were just about to spend to charity.

Lust or lechery, is usually thought of as excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature. Dante’s criterion was excessive love of others, which therefore rendered love and devotion to God as secondary.

Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession. The sex industry was also there at the genesis of the Internet too. We all know how Internet porn is a huge industry thanks to clicking sinners. It’s so easy to find (I’ve been told) and every fantasy is catered for. Don’t blame the spammers for tempting you. If your hand offends thee cut it off. Or just shut down your PC.

Gluttony Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.

Wasted time more like it. Just how many viral videos can one person watch in a day? Or can you resist having one more go at a mind numbingly silly game someone sent you. How many movies or TV shows can you really download and actually watch? Beware, just like eating too much you might start feeling nauseous. Or end up in hell watching Susan Boyle remixes non-stop on YouTube for eternity!!

Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to the acquisition of wealth in particular.

Everyone dreams of becoming rich. Dot com rich. So many new ventures and start-ups are driven by this powerful urge to live the life of the successful entrepreneur. No matter if your dot com idea makes no sense. It’s your ticket to the top – but will only lead to your damnation. Devote your time to helping the poor instead. Hold on, is taken yet? Stop it!!

Despair (Latin, Tristitia) describes a feeling of dissatisfaction or discontent, which causes unhappiness with one’s current situation.

Spend any time on the Internet and you’ll come across people who are more interesting, exciting, intelligent, successful, funny, lucky, happy, beautiful and basically better than you. No wonder you feel despair. There are even groups where you can share your despair and encourage each other to do yourselves harm. Switch off your computer and go to the church. Turn your despair into guilt instead.

Sloth is described as the failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts.

Well if you will spend your time online it can only lead to complete laziness. Forget about using your talents. You don’t even need to use your legs or brain for that matter. Get instant recommendations for just about everything. Buy anything you need and have it delivered to your door. Shame on you! What about using your God-given gifts? Like that fat guy dancing to Single Ladies?

Wrath (Latin, ira), also known as anger or “rage”, may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.

Clearly the Internet has provided a channel for everyone to pour out their wrath. Didn’t like a book? Give zero stars and insults to anyone that gave it otherwise. Chatrooms? How about bloodbaths? Even Tour de France cyclists rage at each other via Twitter. Give peace a chance. Change your ways and turn to religion. Oh, that makes you angry too?

Envy (Latin, invidia) is when someone resents that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking.

Very closely linked to greed, it occurs when we watch a video of grinning buffoons who’ve just sold their website to Google for billions. They don’t care that it will make no money for their buyers. They’ve made it and you watch in total envy. But don’t forget. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. Now don’t you feel better?

Pride or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise.

As you write your blog or tweet about yourself, make your own video CV showing your numerous talents… or upload a video of yourself performing some amazing feat. Just remember that pride comes before fall. God might smite your visitors and you’ll see your popularity drop to zero. Ashton Kutcher, hope you’re listening.

So tread carefully online if you care about your spiritual well-being. Just say out loud “Get behind me Satan”, or Facebook, Twitter, eBay, YouTube…

August 5, 2009

We’re all sociopaths now.

The social media juggernaut keeps on rolling with no sign of slowing down. Even in China we are seeing that 92% of the online population uses social media even though Twitter was banned. What does this mean for marketers? The second biggest social media success story of the past year has to be The Best Job in the World campaign for Queensland Tourism. The blog post from Rohit Bhargava points our 6 lessons to be learned from this campaign. They are: 1 Make it believable. 2 It’s not about how much you spend. 3 Focus on content, not traffic. 4 Create an inherent reason for people to share. 5 Don’t underestimate the power of content creators. 6 Give your promotion a shelf life. Read the full article here. As for the first biggest social media success story? The Worst Job in the World where a relatively unknown guy captured the imagination of a nation (and the odd rapper) to win the day.
Yet there are still many people in adland who don’t have the first clue about social media. They may drop it in presentations but are just giving lip service in many cases. One of the most reTweeted links of the past week should help these people find answers they dare not ask. To quote from website Mashable “Last year, marketing director Marta Kagan helped solve the problem of the lack of understanding of social media with her presentation What the F**k is Social Media?. It was quickly a social media hit for its wit and its very convincing case for the raw power of social media. With the tremendous growth of Twitter, Facebook, and blogging in the last year though, Ms. Kagan thought it was time for a sequel”.
August 3, 2009

Honest John and the Freeconomy


Everything has a dark side. Good has Evil, White has Black and the Internet has Pirating (to name just one). The fact is the Internet created the rod for its own back. By offering so much information and entertainment for free at the touch of a button it created the expectation that everything should be free. New technology emerged allowing people to share music and videos online. Before you knew it the music and movie industries were on their knees (and not only for recreational purposes).

In the days before the Internet came along there was never such an example of wholesale robbery by normally honest people. The closest examples might be office supplies or hotel towels. Disappearing Post-It notes didn’t destroy any industries whereas illegal music sharing has turned almost anyone into petty thieves and previously rich rock stars into reality TV hacks trying to pay for their lifestyles. Only now are illegal downloaders starting to worry as ordinary people are being sued for millions by the recording industry. But the fact is the mindset is now fixed. People want their fix of free.

Wired Magazine’s Chris Anderson has been talking about the Freeconomy for over a year now via the magazine, blogs, conference circuit and now his books. Watch a recent speech at the Building43 conference.

He’s not talking about the freeconomy of a moneyless society where barter is the way to live (hippies stop reading now) but rather the notion of FREE as a business strategy to ultimately generate more profit. His first great example is Gillette giving away razors for free to lock people into buying blades. It isn’t much of a leap to Radiohead giving away their album in a pay-way-you-want approach that helped them create massive buzz and sell out their tour.

maingrolshmobile1In the advertising space the notion of free is a huge trend too. Staying in the world of music we now have Spotify with free streaming music paid for by advertisers. But beyond that there is the whole area of branded entertainment & gaming. One upcoming campaign from Skittles invites people to go skittle yourself. They’ll be launching a social online gaming community  – a hybrid between Facebook and Sims – called the Skittles Skuffle which encourages users to visit the Skittles micro site to create their own avatar which they can personalise with a number of features. Grolsch offer an iPhone app to attendees of the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands that encourages festival-goers to consider their alcohol consumption. The Walk The Line app checks who is fit to drive home. Free can be entertaining, offer something useful or even try to make you more healthy.

Yet how far away is this from the good old world of on-pack promotions? A free tea towel stuck to a 6 pack of beans might shift the product but in the long term you don’t build your brand that way. The basic product has to be worth buying.

As (legally) free becomes more common is it turning everyone back into Honest Johns? Or have we become Greedy Garys instead? Has the Internet created a “what’s in it for me?” culture where brands only have value if they are like parents treating us like spoilt kids?

Value or values? What is ultimately more important?