Posts Tagged 'medium as message'

word up

Nicole, a colleague at BBH Singapore, shared this fantastic piece of activity yesterday:

[image © Gunther Gamper, used with thanks]

It’s an initiative for the Fondation pour l’alphabétisation – an NGO that aims to promote higher levels of literacy amongst the French-speaking population in Canada.

The fundamental premise is very simple: by ‘buying’ words – either from vending machines like the one in the picture above, or from the “words depot” website – people can make donations to the Foundation that will fund literacy programs for the 800,000 Québécois who are hindered by low levels of literacy.

[screen grab of the motsdepot website]

I particularly admire the facility to buy the words in your Facebook status update for 10¢ each, which the site then posts to your Facebook page with a link back to the initiative:

Developed by Montréal-based agency Bleublancrouge, it’s a beautifully simple, yet incredibly powerful way to make giving to charity more personal and resonant.

As the Foundation’s overview says,

“Imaginez tout le plaisir qu’il peut y avoir à posséder un mot qui nous plaît ou auquel nous nous identifions. Car tout est pos­sible lorsque nous achetons un mot. Avec un peu d’imagination, ce n’est plus « royaume » que nous achetons, mais un royaume. Ce n’est pas « amour » que nous offrons, mais de l’amour. Alors, redonnons aux gens leur attachement aux mots, redonnons-leur le plaisir de jouer avec ceux-ci.”

Loosely translated, this means:

“Imagine the great joy of owning a word you like, or with which you identify. Everything is possible when you buy a word. With a bit of imagination, you’re not just buying “kingdom”, but a kingdom. It’s not just “love” you’re buying, but love you’re giving. So let’s help people rebuild a relationship with words; let’s help them enjoy the pleasure of playing with them again.”

By taking the benefit beyond simply relieving people’s conscience, this activity makes donating fun.

CSR at its best.

the fifth dimension

Various forms of technology that once existed solely on the desktop are becoming increasingly interwoven into the broader spectrum of everyday activities.

They bring extra layers of detail, interaction, or entertainment to analogue experiences, allowing technology to come to us, instead of the other way round.

For example, Google Maps mashups and Layar add a richness of detail to physical locations.

Meanwhile, apps like foursquare and Gowalla are taking social network into real-world interactions.

But the possibilities of augmented reality (AR) are the ones I find most exciting.

If we look beyond the novelty that characterised much early AR, and explore instead the ways in which normal, everyday objects can become interfaces that trigger a ‘fifth dimension’ of reality, things get very interesting.

Suddenly, everything can become so much more than it already is.

This has massive potential for every brand in every category around the world – from the simplest to the most complex.

Ever the pioneer, Adidas has been exploring what that might mean for its shoes.

Not content to limit itself to producing hugely popular fashion items, the brand has recognised that its products can deliver even more value through this fifth dimension:

Watch out for an explosion of activity like this from other brands in the coming months.

Many thanks again to Alexander and the whole Cultural Fuel team for sharing yet another gem.

planning for the future (4): blend the mix

blending the Ps

As we saw earlier this week, brand communications have the opportunity to evolve from a promotional tool, into a new avenue to deliver brand benefits.

However, this opportunity isn’t limited to communications; it can easily extend to the rest of the marketing mix too.

Rationale

When it comes to branding, everything communicates: packaging, purchase experience, and after-sales support all play critical roles in shaping people’s perceptions of our brand.

However, brands often approach these elements as distinct activities, and deliver a range of different experiences as a result.

To address this issue, brands need to adopt a more holistic perspective, aligning everything they do to a common objective.

This isn’t about image consistency; it’s about maximising the opportunities to actually deliver what people really want and need (another case of starting from your audience, not the brand)

As we move towards a more holistic approach to marketing, planners need to think beyond ‘advertising’ to identify the ways we can help marketers to blend the various ‘Ps‘ into a truly seamless mix.

Let’s start by looking at distribution.

Take it to them

One way planners can help is to fundamentally re-think the role brands play in people’s lives.

A big part of this is helping to shift the marketing mindset from selling products to selling benefits.

Let’s take FMCG brands as an example.

The vast majority of these are sold through conventional retail channels – supermarkets, drugstores, etc.

Withing these channels, many even have their own dedicated category ‘aisles’.

Until recently, our concept of ‘innovation’ in distribution has been to locate brands in different parts of the store, like putting men’s toiletries next to the beer.

This is a good start, because it starts to think about people as they think about their needs.

But brands don’t belong to just one distribution environment.

Indeed, many FMCG brands have evolved beyond their core product offerings to become ‘lifestyle’ choices, and consequently, their relevance extends far beyond the supermarket shelf.

For this reason, I’d argue that a brand like Axe would be much more at home in a Diesel store than it is in the aisles of Walmart.

Furthermore, it could really come to life in nightclub bathrooms and gym locker rooms.

So what does this have to do with planners?

The answer lies in value delivery.

Getting involved in distribution strategy doesn’t fall into the traditional planner’s realm of influence, but demonstrating and delivering the brand’s benefits at the times of greatest relevance lies at the core of a new planning manifesto:

Identifying the most relevant and engaging times and places to deliver specific brand benefits, and the most efficient and effective ways to deliver those benefits in that context.

If planners are to help brands create real value, they need to get involved with all aspects of the marketing mix.

Key Benefit

Developing a distribution strategy around delivery of brand benefits helps build brand equity at the same time as expanding sales and revenue opportunities.

It also enables brands to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with other like-minded brands.

Alongside these growth opportunities, a unified ‘one brand‘ approach allows brands to reduce costs by harnessing operational synergies.

Key Action

Rather than limiting our thinking to conventional retail norms, we should re-examine the times and places where our brands’ benefits have the greatest relevance, and use this as the basis for developing distribution strategies instead.

Previous posts in the ‘planning for the future’ series

Introduction: a new planning manifesto

Use communications to deliver value: moving from advertising to adding value

It’s all about the benefits: a simple example of how to deliver a brand’s core benefit with a TV ad

Add CSR to everything you do: how contributing to the greater good can help your brand too.

planning for the future (3): add CSR to everything you do

add csr to everything

Monday’s introduction to planning for the future highlighted an exciting shift in advertising’s role:

“Rather than simply interrupting [people’s] escapism, we now have greater scope to make [their] lives better.”

Today’s suggestion – to incorporate an element of CSR into everything you do – continues this logic:

If brands are to become a meaningful part of people’s lives, they need to enrich those people’s lives too.

Rationale

Give, and you shall receive

This applies equally well to brands as it does to people; indeed, many of the world’s great brands were born on the principle of cooperation.

Lever Brothers built the foundations of today’s Unilever on the principle of ‘doing well by doing good’.

Similarly, Cadbury created an entire social eco-system for its workforce around the company’s factory in Bournville – an approach rooted in the Quaker ideal of mutual benefit.

For some reason, this ‘considerate’ approach to business went out of fashion for many years, reaching a low point in the corporate greed of the 1980s.

However, a renewed focus on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility‘ (CSR) became popular in the 90s, and brands today cannot justify a lack of broader conscientiousness.

But CSR isn’t just a ploy to enrich the company’s annual report.

Indeed, simply throwing money at a charity can often seem more like an acknowledgment of guilt than genuine concern.

For CSR to be effective, brands must demonstrate a real commitment to driving change and helping people.

This is most effective when the area of CSR focus relates to the brand’s core purpose and expertise, and integrates with the brand’s overall marketing.

For example, while I’d applaud a petroleum brand that donated 10% of its profits to feeding the poor, I’d admire and celebrate that brand much more if they invested the same amount of money in developing ecologically balanced sources of energy that ensured a brighter future for everyone, not just their shareholders.

However, it’s often difficult to justify that kind of longer-term CSR to shareholders, who invariably demand results today (and not 30 years down the line).

The good news is that CSR is a powerful and effective way to build a successful brand – a financial benefit that even myopic shareholders can relate to.

This is because CSR has the ability to create much deeper connection and engagement than broadcast advertising ever could; by helping communities and society at large, brands can demonstrate that they’re on the side of the people, and that helps to establish a more powerful bond.

So how can brands make best use of CSR opportunities?

Let’s return to the Run London example from yesterday’s post.

Nike incorporates a significant ‘community’ element in each iteration of this event (and indeed in much of its broader marketing).

For starters, all participants are encouraged to raise money for charity through sponsorship.

Other initiatives, such as Nike’s ReUse-A-Shoe Program, take the concept of CSR even further:

Benefit

Feeling good about a brand makes it much easier for people to justify choosing it over alternatives.

Furthermore, genuine CSR inspires people to talk about the brand, driving word of mouth and amplifying ROI.

Action

Identify as many relevant opportunities as you can for your brand to give something back to its communities, and assign a meaningful portion of your brand’s resource – money and effort – to delivering these contributions.

Previous posts in the ‘planning for the futureseries

Introduction: a new planning manifesto

Use communications to deliver value: moving from advertising to adding value

It’s all about the benefits: a simple example of how to deliver a brand’s core benefit with a TV ad

beck’s paints the town

comunicadores beck's music inspired art

Comunicadores are running a feature on this interesting piece of activity from Beck’s in the UK.

The brand has teamed up with local artists to produce a series of pub facade decorations around the theme of “Music Inspired Art“. The facade in the example above is inspired by The Cure’s “Lovecats”.

This campaign appeals to me for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it creates powerful engagement at the point of consumption – a hugely important objective in beer marketing.

Secondly, it builds the brand’s personality through associations – music and art – that appeal to the brand’s focus audience.

Finally, it provides a valuable service to outlets, by creating attractive exteriors that will attract more visitors, so deepening the brand’s customer relationships too.

A great example of how to make point-of-purchase communications work much harder.

Image borrowed directly from the Comunicadores post, with many thanks

the flawed opposition of medium vs. message

@ptiongson alerted me to this tweet from @wpponline last night:

wpponline sorrell tweet

Now, although the article uses the phrase as its title, the authors provide no evidence that Sorrell actually said, “the medium is more important than the message.”

However, this opposition remains a common debate – and one that’s fundamentally flawed.

Communication cannot occur without both medium and message – they’re entirely co-dependent.

Rather than being in opposition, both elements need to be carefully woven together: we’ve seen before that the most effective communications deliver the right message to the right people in the right places at the right times.

But maybe I’m missing something.

Could the medium really be more important than the message?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

new media

new-wow

The ‘media landscape’ has changed significantly in the past ten years. 

Digital, mobile, social networking… every year seems to bring its own ‘new media’.

It’s all very exciting.

However, despite their excitement, many marketers still have a very limited concept of ‘media’.

I’ve mentioned before that I believe advertising is

the process of sharing the right things with the right people in the right places at the right times.

This has significant implications for ‘media’.

On the one hand, it necessitates a more tailored approach to establishing audience connections.

The conventional model focuses on reaching an audience, but what does that matter? As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water… we need to ensure that the horse drinks as well.

This means being much more specific when it comes to identifying where and when we can engage people with what the brand wants to share.

It’s about relevance and resonance, not reach and frequency.

On the other hand, we need to be a lot more open-minded when it comes to defining ‘media’.

Why limit ourselves to the conventional choices?

There is nothing* a brand cannot use to communicate.

Our imperative is to identify the best opportunities for sharing things in the most efficient and effective manner.

To do this, we need to plan around people’s whole lives, not just around paid media and their associated ratings.

More on that here.

Really, nothing. If you’re doubtful, give me an example of something you think couldn’t be used as ‘media’, and I’ll try to think of a way it could be used.





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