Posts Tagged 'WOM'

counting sheep puts people to sleep

counting sheep

To everyone obsessing about how to increase page views, followers, or ‘friends’ on social networking sites,  here’s a simple word of advice:


Forget keeping score: it doesn’t matter.

Reach doesn’t equate to engagement, and people are only ‘friends’ if you interact with them on a regular basis.

Let’s focus on what really matters.

Over to Seth

Many thanks to Niall over at Simply Zesty for sharing this video
UPDATE: seems a few people have run similar stories in the past day or so too – this post from All Facebook is one of the best examples


take a bite out of their apple

Apple’s North American online store went down for ‘updates’ earlier today.

Engadget reports that during this outage, the site displayed the following image:

apple store outage

Sure enough, loads of people contacted Engadget, who duly ran a story that attracted close to 100 comments.

I’m amazed: Apple have managed to transform a conventional source of irritation into an effective talking point that encourages people to check back until the store opens.

Brilliant marketing.

legends of the dark black


A few weeks ago, over on the wonderful Noisy Decent Graphics, Ben shared some history relating to the oldest logo still in use today.

He came to the conclusion that it’s the S.P.Q.R. mark, which dates back to Ancient Roman times:


This started me thinking about the world’s longest surviving brands.

The world’s major religions – Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam – would probably all make it into the top 10.

Surprisingly, this Wikipedia page suggests that they might be joined by a few hotel brands.

Less surprising was the fact that breweries would probably make the list too; I can think of a few beer brands that have been around for more than a couple of centuries.

Perhaps the best example of this is Guinness – a brand which, fittingly, celebrates its 250th birthday this week.

It’s by no means the world’s oldest beer brand, but it’s certainly one of the most widely recognised; indeed, it enjoys such cult status that people happily wear Guinness T-shirts, even if they’re not big fans of the drink.

So what is it that has helped Guinness to survive and continue growing for so long, and what can other brands learn from its success?

Here are a few thoughts:

The brand is a story

Many people still believe that the recipe for Guinness was discovered by accident when Arthur accidentally burnt a batch of his normal brew. The story goes that he sold this batch at a discount to porters at the local docks, who all came back asking for more. Regardless of whether this story is true*, it’s exactly the kind of trivia that the brand’s core consumers love to share in pubs and bars, inspiring talkability at the point of purchase and consumption.

In a similar vein, I’ve heard many people retell the more accurate story that Guinness was regularly prescribed to new mothers, people who gave blood, those with heart conditions, and for a variety of other ailments. A variety of functional qualities, not least the drink’s high iron content, mean that many people still believe the brand’s historic claim that “Guinness is Good For You.”

The product is highly distinctive

In a market saturated with hundreds of lager brands that all look, smell, and taste the same, Guinness offers something different. It’s thick, dark, and bitter, and as a consequence, it stands apart from all the competing offers at the bar.

What’s more, outlets invariably serve Guinness in distinctive, branded glassware – vessels so prized that drinkers often ‘forget’ to return them once they’ve finished their pint.

It’s part of numerous consumption rituals

To many people, Guinness is Ireland, and vice versa. Every year, people make a point of visiting bars on March 17th to drink a Guinness in honour of St Patrick. A good proportion of them will do so in an Irish Pub – another ‘brand’ which has successfully travelled the globe, invariably taking Guinness with it.

And then there’s the product ritual itself. The real Guinness pour – ‘119.53 seconds to perfection’ – is a brand ritual like no other. It’s an unparalleled intangible social object, reinforced by barstaff and brand fans the world over. Not only is the ritual observed, but people share the story themselves, citing the brand’s famous “good things come to those who wait” explanation.

Crucially, consumers can be a part of all these occasions – indeed, the brand is often merely a facilitator in their occasions – and that draws people deeper into the brand’s franchise.

It delivers a strong expressive (emotional) benefit

Guinness is often seen as a ‘real man’s beer’. The strong, bitter taste takes some getting used to, and more than a couple of pints in one sitting requires determination. The associations vary subtly by culture, but most relate to strength, courage, and masculinity, as well as a sense of mystery and intrigue.

It delivers inconic communications

The brand has built on its talkability through a long-standing association with iconic advertising. From the famous “Guinness is Good For You” slogan and the instantly recognisable toucan, to more modern incarnations such as the Rutger Hauer “Pure Genius” campaign and the award-winning surfer (both below), Guinness’s advertising regularly inspires conversations.

Guinness toucan

It’s an experience

It’s hard to rush Guinness, even if you could find a reason to want to. It’s a stout that’s meant to be savoured, not guzzled. The rituals, the distinctive glassware, the experiential settings all combine to make a Guinness so much more than a “quick pint”. Because of this, Guinness actually helps the drinker to slow down, which makes it a relevant choice at the end of a long day.

It’s tasty

While taste is a matter of subjective interpretation, it’s unlikely the brand would sell 1 billion pints around the world each year if it didn’t tickle the right taste buds. And that makes a big difference; no matter how much hype surrounds a brand, if it delivers fundamental utility, it stands a better chance of surviving in the long run.

I’m sure I won’t be alone in raising a glass (or two) in celebration of the Dark Black on September 24th.

*Apparently this story is pure legend, but I think I’ll stick with it anyway.
Remember that alcohol is only fun in moderation – don’t ruin the occasion by having too much.

tee total

Tiger Woods Tee-Off Banner

I stumbled on this great interactive piece thanks to @eunmac at Amnesia Razorfish.

The experience is similar to the Pringles banner that won awards at Cannes recently: there’s a compelling communications proposition that actively engages the audience and draws them in to an evolving story.

Even better, this campaign offers people a simple, free sample of the new Tiger Woods game, right within the advertising.

However, it was when I came to post about it that I realised there was an opportunity to make this type of campaign even more powerful.

I actually wanted to include the ‘tee-off’ banner above, instead of just the screen shot.

Maybe I’m just being slow, but I couldn’t find an easy way to do that.

Allowing people to embed the tee-off banner on their own site, or even on their Facebook profile, would amplify the reach of the campaign with no additional media cost, and even better, stimulate audience conversations.

Interactive, social media, and peer endorsement all in one; a client’s dream!

Moreover, when you ‘tee off’ in the current campaign, you visit a series of new EA pages where you play your subsequent strokes.

This was perhaps another missed opportunity; if the subsequent banners were to appear on other, non-EA sites, the brand could establish some interesting partnerships (Poke’s Balloonacy campaign for Orange demonstrated the power of this approach).

It’s already a great campaign, but I’d love to see some of these developments expand the audience engagement.

Thanks again to @eunmac

influencing influence

eskimon's paid opinions

Paid opinions are a hot topic for discussion at the moment.

In the past 24 hours, PSFK, Marketing Pilgrim, and 1000Heads have all shared some great thoughts on the subject.

While reading their posts, it occurred to me that people view this issue quite differently, depending on the context.

That’s not surprising – context is always critical – but which specific elements influences our perspective?

In the ‘offline’ world, we seem to have little issue with paid endorsement.

Sports players invariably endorse the brands they use, and most of us seem comfortable with that.

The thinking seems to be,

“If Tiger’s success depends so heavily on the clubs he uses, surely he wouldn’t compromise his success to endorse a brand he doesn’t trust?”

Similarly, come Oscars time, gossip columns lead with stories on which designer was ‘chosen’ by each celebrity.

“If Angelina’s success depends so heavily on looking great at all times, surely she wouldn’t compromise her look by wearing anything less than the best label?”

Such sponsorship seems acceptable to most people.

But when it comes to sponsored editorial and opinion – especially online – people adopt a very different standpoint.

“If a blogger is being paid to review a brand, their review will inevitably be biased”

Why this change of perspective?

Blogging success is (usually) determined by readership, and that readership depends on the respect and trust of the blog’s followers.

So why would any sensible blogger compromise their success for any brand that pays them?

It seems ironic that, when it comes to sponsorship, we place less faith in the actions of the people whose opinions we normally trust than we do in those of celebrities and sportspeople.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.



I’m a great believer in the value of research, but I’m dismayed by the frequency with which findings are distorted in order to endorse or support a particular agenda.

As I’ve noted before,

“Torture numbers and they’ll tell you anything.*”

So it was with interest that I read this headline in MediaWeek:

“Survey: Consumers Don’t Hate Ads”

After reading the article, I dug a little deeper into the source material – the recently published “Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey: Trust, Value and Engagement in Advertising.”

It’s full of great data, and I’ve been looking forward to this latest iteration of the bi-annual survey.

However, there are two areas in this year’s report that disturbed me.

The first is the conclusion that inspired the MediaWeek headline:

“Consumer perceptions on the value of advertising
are generally positive.”

Let’s look at the data that ‘support’ that conclusion [click the image to enlarge]:

[image taken directly from Nielsen's report]

[image from Nielsen’s report]

You’ll notice that these statements are framed as ‘facts’.

But when the report draws its conclusions on these findings, it states:

“We asked if advertising…

  • increases value for consumers (through competition);
  • promotes consumer choice (helping consumers exercise their right to choose)
  • powers economic growth (by helping companies succeed)
  • creates jobs (through economic growth and as an industry in itself);
  • is the lifeblood of media (funding a diverse, pluralistic media landscape);
  • funds sports and culture (through sponsorship);
  • helps make a difference (through public service advertisements);
  • often gets my attention and is entertaining.”

These ‘questions’ are quite different to the statements in the chart above.

So, do the data really show that “consumer perceptions on the value of advertising are generally positive”?

I’m not convinced.

My second issue relates to a regular concern [again, click the image to enlarge]:

nielsen trust in media 2009 02

[image from Nielsen’s report]

You probably know what’s coming…

“Peer recommendation is the most trusted [advertising] channel, trusted “completely” or “somewhat” by 9 out of 10 respondents worldwide.”

I’ve talked about this before.

‘Peer Recommendation’ / ‘WOM’ / ‘Consumer Opinions Posted Online’ / ‘Editorial Content’ are not advertising channels.

Rather, they are all consequences of other marketing activities.

People trust them precisely because they’re not advertising.

In their true form, they’re unbiased, and that’s what makes them persuasive and trustworthy.

Sure, brands have tried to hijack them and use them as channels, but that invariably generates mistrust rather than trust, as evidenced here.

I don’t dispute the value of word of mouth, but we need to accept that it’s not advertising; brands cannot ‘buy’ these ‘channels’ any more than they can ‘buy’ sales.

Having raised these two concerns though, I fully encourage you to download a copy of Nielsen’s report and study the numbers for yourself.

So long as you approach them with an open mind and an unbiased agenda, you’ll find them highly informative and very useful.

[As a side note, perhaps we should see the report’s conclusions in the context of  this post]

*Thanks again to Kelvin for this wonderful quote.

tweet and make up

coke twitter

pepsi twitter

This really tickled me – a great idea from Iain at Amnesia.

He’s managed to get Coke and Pepsi talking to each other on twitter.

The idea works on so many levels, but above all, it demonstrates marketing maturity from both brands.

Holding out a hand to your rival is a great way to demonstrate a strong brand personality and a responsible social attitude.

And it’s doing wonders for PR and conversations too…

Who’s next?


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