January 16, 2013

Cross-culture creativity

Thanks to the internet we now live in a global culture. Anyone can see the same thing at the same time. Even with the “great firewall” the Chinese have ways to access to the same content as someone in New York, London or Sydney. Because of this more and more brands are seeking to communicate with one global voice because it’s impossible to put up walls between countries.

So how can we create campaigns that cross cultures and are meaningful wherever you are in the world? First we need to be sensitive about cultural differences

It’s not just about translating text from one language to the next. We need to consider cultural values, etiquette humor and slang. A global agency needs local people to help develop a truly universal campaign. Otherwise this might happen…

When Pepsi entered the Chinese market, the translation of their slogan “Pepsi Brings you Back to Life” was a little more literal than they intended. In Chinese, the slogan meant, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”

When Kentucky Fried Chicken first opened stores in China, it didn’t take long before they discovered their slogan, “finger lickin’ good” translated to “eat your fingers off.”

When Ford introduced the Pinto in Brazil, they were confused as to why sales were going nowhere. The company later learned “Pinto” is slang for “tiny male genitals” in Brazil. Ford ultimately changed the car’s name to Corcel, which means ‘horse’ in Portuguese.

Can a brand campaign be universally understood and loved? Look at this recent example from the world of music to see how something can cross cultural boundaries. Gangnam Style has become the most watched video on Youtube. How can a tubby man singing in Korean become a global hit? He stuck a universal chord by combining a simple tune with a dance move anyone can copy. Is it meaningless fun? Of course! But it went around the world like wildfire.

Coincidentally the recent launches of Microsoft Windows 8 and Surface were essentially marketing messages wrapped inside music videos. Easy to use across cultures but can the message be more meaningful?

Global campaigns need to touch the hearts and minds of everyone no matter what their culture of language is. We could learn a lot from Pepsi who recently launched a new global campaign. Their new theme of “Live for Now” is a rallying cry as well as a clear brand spirit that is embodied by a pop-culture-focused campaign. It’s centered around a social and content curation platform called Pepsi Pulse.

“Live for Now” came out of “the desire to build a global positioning for our flagship brand Pepsi,” says president, global enjoyment, brands, and chief creative officer of PepsiCo, Brad Jakeman. “It’s the culmination of 9 months of work around the world to understand the unique place that Pepsi already owns in people’s hearts and minds.” Jakeman says the research revolved around finding out how Pepsi “loyalists” defined themselves, and he says that what emerged as a theme was “the notion of making the most of every moment.”

The Nike campaign “Find your greatness” is a great example of a message that resonated with people anywhere in the world – especially during the London Olympics when ordinary people could only admire the superhuman athletes performing. Running across 25 countries the campaign sought to inspire everyone to find their own moment of greatness and push themselves a little further. The underlying message is simple – if you have a body you are an athlete.

Cross-culture creativity relies on universal human insights to develop a message that connects with people. It can be on a deep or superficial level. But it comes down to understanding the humanity that unites us beyond language, culture or traditions.

Finally, a brand can’t just say something, it has to live it too. So find your truth and then make it real. In every message, connection and action – be true to who you are.

August 21, 2012

The UX of campaigns

A few years ago Josh Porter and Josh Brewer launched a site called 52 Weeks of UX. It was, and still is, an invaluable resource for anyone creating meaningful and effective user experiences for the web, mobile and beyond. Recently I’ve been approaching the development of advertising/marketing campaigns from a UX mindset. I’m not talking about the generic user journeys with multiple touch points but something bigger and deeper. It’s about putting yourself in their shoes, seeing things through their eyes. By treating a campaign, on or offline (or both) as a user experience we approach everything from a different perspective. So let’s look at some of the rules of UX from Porter & Brewer to see how they can apply to marketing campaigns:

1. The Experience Belongs to the User: “Designers do not create experiences, they create artifacts to experience”.

In 52 Weeks of UX the authors say that we need to “design the framework within which people experience our product/service. If our framework is solid, then great experiences will be a common occurrence”. When planning out an idea it’s good to use diagrams to map out the campaign framework. You will see where the dead ends are and how doing one thing can lead to another. Your idea will become multi-dimensional.

2. UX is Holistic: “The experience is not just the product anymore. It is made up of all touch-points of a larger system, from the product to the support to the way your neighbor talks about it”.

Porter & Brewer use the word system for good reason and campaigns can also be designed with this systematic approach. Only by mapping out the connections of every part can we expect our audience to be able to fully engage and have a meaningful experience.

3. Great User Experiences are Invisible: “When people are having a great experience, they rarely notice the hard work that has been put into place to make it happen”.

Same goes for good campaign planning. Nobody should feel that a brand is forcing them to do something that isn’t a natural response. When a person engages with your campaign their next action should flow naturally. They should not feel like they have to jump through loops.

4. UX is a Lifecycle: “People experience the world over time…nothing happens at once”.

When we create campaigns there is often a sense of panic that we have one shot to get the attention of our audience or else they will be lost forever. But if we can create an idea that is not just big but also long then we give our audience time to be drawn into our message.

5. Context is King: “In an age when it is easy to create products and content quickly, the missing piece becomes context: how does what we create fit into the lives of the people we create it for?”

Just like in UX design we need to fully understand our audience, how they behave and what influences their decisions. If our campaign fits the audience mindset like a glove they will be more likely to take the step to engage. Make sure you have real insights as a solid foundation to build your ideas upon.

6. Great Experience is about Control: “The worst feeling in the world is to feel out of control. When people feel out of control, they simply don’t have a good time”.

Porter and Brewer make a great point that is totally valid when it comes to creating effective marketing campaigns. Make sure your audience feels like they are the ones making a decision. Ask their permission, make them feel enabled or (better still) give them a sense of ownership as participants in the campaign.

7. UX is Social: “Time was when a person’s experience with a computer was a solo affair. The most they did was to email someone and get a response. Boy have times changed!”

It’s just the same with a marketing/advertising campaign. Social media will influence their opinions and actions. It also gives people great power of influence over others. The success or failure of your plan could depend on positive word of mouth so this must be built into your framework. It means listening as well as communicating.

8. Psychology is Primary: “Software is getting easier to use all the time. The one with the psychological edge will win. This means that we have to dive deeply into the psychology of use, play, product adoption, and social interaction to create the best experiences”.

Sometimes when creating campaigns agencies can be a bit superficial when it comes to deeply understand their target audience’s psychology, their motivations and triggers. Take time to truly understand who you want to engage with so your campaign has the best chance to succeed.

9. UX is a Conversation: “UX, like marketing, is a conversation. As UX professionals we are creating a dialog with users in which the goal is to find out how we can best help them do what they want to do”.

The authors of 52 Weeks of UX see the relevance of this point to marketing and how it applies to UX. Marketing as a conversation has been a hot topic at award festivals these past few years but it isn’t easy to get it right. Who is in charge of managing the conversations? Not just between a consumer and the brand but between groups of consumers. It can easily get messy so plan for all contingencies.

10. Great Experiences are Simple: “Simplicity is much more than the trite “less is more” we so often hear. Simplicity is not about volume; it’s about clarity”.

Watch a few case study videos and you’ll soon see which campaigns didn’t fully succeed because they were so complex. Our target audience is bombarded with brands trying to get their attention. We need to find a way to stand out with a campaign idea but keep it so simple that people just get it. It’s clear what the message is and how we want the “user” to engage. Brilliant but simple.

Check out the 52 Weeks of UX as it’s full of great thoughts that go beyond building websites or software. As we see these tips can be applied when it comes to creating effective marketing campaigns. You could even apply UX thinking to the internal process of a company. Or maybe to your own career path or personal life. For creative people like myself it’s never a bad thing to bring some order to the chaos.

December 11, 2009

How to build great (digital) campaigns

under-constructionChapter 5 in David Ogilvy’s book, Confessions of an Advertising Man (the inspiration behind this blog), talks about the discipline needed to create truly successful campaigns. He believed that good advertising “sells the product without drawing attention to itself. It should rivet the reader’s attention on the product”. It should never say “what a clever advertisement”.

How does this apply to today’s world of digital media? Many “viral” campaigns are all about being clever while the product is almost invisible. Ogilvy was all about results and was obsessed with the performance-driven disciplines of mail-order, retail and consumer research. He talked about data years before it became part of the fabric of everyday life.

Ogilvy wrote his recipe for advertising campaigns that made “the cash register ring”. Let’s see how his “eleven commandments” work today:

1 – What you say is more important than how you say it.

“The content of the advertising, not its form” makes someone buy your product according to Ogilvy. In the world of print or TV advertising this may be more true than in the area of digital where brand experience is becoming more important. Form and content become blurred.

A great example is the Doritos Hotel 626 where the product makes way for an entertaining, branded experience that probably does more for the product than a site telling you about the way it’s made.


2 – Unless your campaign is built around a great idea, it will flop.

The face of advertising may be changing with new agencies springing up that offer new models and ways of thinking… but there is one thing that will never change. The power of the idea. Technology can support a great idea but not replace it. Campaigns built on a gimmick won’t have the legs to last very long.

Build your campaign around a bad idea (hello Windows 7 party) and you might end up with the wrong kind of publicity.

3 – Give the facts.

Here digital comes into it’s own. Where space was limited in print ads or 30 seconds on TV could only contain so much information, the internet allows people to dig as deep as they choose. Check out the Dove US website. With different levels of information and opportunities to engage, it really allows you to experience the brand philosophy and products in a tangible way.

4 – You cannot bore people into buying.

Ogilvy wrote that “the average family is now exposed to more than 1500 advertisements a day”. Imagine what that figure must be like today? It’s harder than ever to cut through the clutter and get the attention of your potential customer. Some of the best digital campaigns of the past year are definitely not boring. They even merit their own “making of”.

5 – Be well mannered, but don’t clown.

David’s comments are a definite throwback to the Madmen era of good manners and etiquette. Today “clowning” around online seems to be a required feature of most campaigns. What would Mr. Ogilvy think of it all? Even footballers are happy to be silly in this new campaign for the Fifa 10 game.

6 – Make your advertisements contemporary.

This is surely not what Ogilvy had in mind but being contemporary online means tapping into all the current digital trends. From crowdsourcing to social networking – the Public Polo campaign by Achtung captures the spirit of now.

7 – Committees can criticize advertisement, but they cannot write them.

A single-minded vision cannot be delivered by a group of people making decisions. The best online campaigns have clearly had a very brave client that is confident in a great idea.

Someone at McCann Erickson Israel came up with this original idea and the client went with it. Maybe because it also cost so little.


8 – If you are lucky enough to write a good advertisement, repeat it until it stops pulling.

In advertising history there have been many campaigns that have continued for years, constantly being updated but with one strong concept. The Louis Vuitton Journeys campaign is a great example of a good idea that travels far – and works equally well on and offline.

lv

9 – Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your own family to read.

The Burger King Subservient Chicken was a great idea that didn’t offend anyone. But have they gone too far with the Shower Cam? Trust the British to risk offending consumers with a site where each morning a shower babe “shakes her bits to the hits at 9:30 a.m. every morning”. All to promote the BK breakfast.

10 – The image and the brand.

The internet throws up a big problem. How do you control all that is being said about your brand? Even if you have a consistent advertising and marketing message with a strong, identifiable style… someone somewhere online will upset the apple cart by trashing your carefully constructed image. This might be through an angry blog complaining about customer service or via someone mashing up your ads on YouTube.

11 – Don’t be a copycat.

Sorry to mention you again Microsoft but this was too late too lame…