Friday, November 19, 2010

Social Media CSR - The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

This presentation does a good job of memorializing how campaigns have been successful in driving social change.
Companies, or movements like Green Peace, have built support by leveraging available media platforms in an innovative way allowing for immediate involvement in a cause. Take a look.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

KLM - performance art creates buzz (and smiles)


I absolutely love guerilla marketing as a way to generate brand buzz and launch new products. Here is a new favourite from KLM to launch their new "Economy Comfort Zone" on intercontinental flights. The event takes place in Manchester Airport using the Dutch magician Ramana. Advertising that generates awareness and smiles is a powerful duo, combined with the viral effect this ad will generate, it's a very effective campaign indeed.

Hema - viral launch of an eCommerce site

Click Here

Sometimes examples of well-executed creative ideas take a while to cross the ocean. This is one from Holland that I thought was really fun and effective.

HEMA is a Dutch department store that opened it's first door in 1926 in Amsterdam. There are currently 150 stores all over Holland. In June 2008 they launched a campaign to promote their new online shop, but instead of a creating a typical digital ad, their agency turned the new website of HEMA itself into a viral hit, based on the simple message: "The products of HEMA can now be found online at"

The website had 700.000 visitors the first week, and 1.500.000 after a month. It was featured on all major blogs in the Netherlands as well as worldwide blogs such as Gizmodo, BoingBoing, Wired. It got over 2.400 Diggs. Google blog search reports over 2.000 mentions of the site's name.

The Best Ideas - breakfast with Seth Godin

Seth Godin requires no introduction. I happily subscribe to his words of wisdom and creative inspiration that are sent every day, rain, snow or sun. You can too. This little pearl was delivered into my inbox this morning. I read it while munching on my Raisin Bran with bananas and a sipping a cup of (Starbucks French Roast) coffee. I thought I would share it you.

"Do you often find ideas that change everything in a windowless conference room, with bottled water on the side table and a circle of critics and skeptics wearing suits looking at you as the clock ticks down to the 60 minutes allocated for this meeting?

If not, then why do you keep looking for them there?

The best ideas come out of the corner of our eye, the edge of our consciousness, in a flash. They are the result of misdirection and random collisions, not a grinding corporate onslaught. And yet we waste billions of dollars in time looking for them where they're not.

A practical tip: buy a big box of real wooden blocks. Write a key factor/asset/strategy on each block in big letters. Play with the blocks. Build concrete things out of non-concrete concepts. Uninvite the devil's advocate, since the devil doesn't need one, he's doing fine.

Have fun. Why not? It works".

Isn't that the greatest idea! I wonder if this would work in a group setting. Often I find that these collisions and new ideas come from getting a group of people together from different functions and backgrounds to look at an issue or opportunity.

Feel free to share your most effective techniques on generating good ideas.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Crowdsourcing creative needs- innovative options for budgets small and large

Over the past two years, a number of creative services crowdsourcing sites have emerged providing services you would typically find at an ad agency - everything from logo design, advertising development, website design, video creation, to brand naming and tag lines. The more well known of these sites includes, genuisrocket, and Victors & Spoils.

So how do these work? and Geniousrocket have a similar approach.
  1. You develop a creative brief which is posted on their site. You select a reward/prize anywhere from $100 upwards depending on the scope of the project . A flat fee is charged by the site (20% on the prize at GR or a project brief fee $39 at 99D)

  2. Your project is uploaded to the website and designers from around the world submit their creations. During the ideation phase, there's an opportunity for creators to correspond with the client in order to get more clarification or info
  3. select the winner
  4. rights transfer
Victors & Spoils works differently from the two sites mentioned above. It's model seems similar to an ad agency but with a big difference in that it harnesses the principles of crowdsourcing to develop work. In a very real sense, they end up with a virtual, hand-picked creative department. In this case, you play the more traditional role of the client. The CCO at V&S is Evan Fry, an ex-Crispen & Porter.

Here's a little more on them, edited from their website:

".... it’s our goal to provide businesses with a better way to solve their marketing, advertising and product-design problems by engaging the world’s most talented creatives.

...companies need an alternative.., one that offers the strategic direction, engagement and relationship management that agencies deliver today, but one that also delivers the engagement, cultural relevance, results and return on investment that crowdsourcing {if managed and directed well} can deliver".

Two very interesting approaches that serve different audiences and needs.

Have you crowdsourced any of your projects - or submitted creative work? I would love to hear about your experience.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

emarketing - emails you'd love to receive? Is it possible?

As I was going through my Yahoo account this morning, I realized it was out of control. Hundreds of unopened emails from a host of great companies trying to solicit my business. And in amongst this sea of company names, emails from friends were being overlooked. This wasn't working. Time to unsubscribe to get incoming mail to a manageable amount.

This made me think....what is it that companies need to do to really stand out and deserve my attention? Most of the emails were like sales flyers, companies selling me what's on promotion. Unless it's big news like, my favourite hiking boots that I've viewed 8 times are now 50% off, I'm really not that interested.

So what is it that companies need to do to generate and keep my interest? In contemplating this question I came across a piece of advice from a relatively unknown (or at least to me) email marketing company called Madmimi

I often feel that the best way to treat your list with respect is to sit and think of yourself for a little while. Think of how important you are to your customers, how your product, service or newsletter improves your readers’ day and even improves their lives.

Great, now you can create an email which shows your passion and, like laughter, passion can be infectious. Imbue your emails with sincerity and your contacts will appreciate you all the more for it.

There’s another side to this idea. Think of yourself some more but this time as if you’re the recipient. What makes you open up an email in your inbox. What makes you click on a link or read it til the end? When do you feel you’re being respected and when do you feel that your email address is taken advantage of (ugh! No one wants to be spammy!).

It’s really helpful to write an email you’d love to receive

I think this is great inspiration and a powerful filter for any email marketing campaign.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Growth and Role of Online in US Retail

There are some tasty tidbits of research recently released from eMarketer and Forrester Research that track the growth and importance of ecommerce as both a shopping and research medium for consumers. eMarketer forecasts that in 2010, US retail e-commerce sales (excluding travel) will climb to more than $152 billion, which is 12.7% higher than 2009.

They also estimate that 162 million people in the US will research products online this year. Of that, over 82% will makes purchases. As big as this number is, the internet still functions mainly as a research tool, capturing only 7.7% of total retail sales. The percent of online buyers will rise as younger aged Internet users, predisposed to e-commerce, replace older users.

The biggest opportunity for retailers is to provide a seamless experience between the web and the store. According to Forrester Research, much of the overall retail sector’s growth in both the US and the EU over the next five years will come from the Internet. “To maximize that growth, eBusiness professionals will have to help enable a multichannel strategy that responds to consumers’ increased desire to hop between the offline and online worlds and their increasing mobile and social behaviors. The retail innovators over the next five years will demonstrate customer enablement across all touchpoints, not just via a PC-based Web browser.”

Despite consumers’ increasing use of the Web to research products before purchasing, most retailers fall short on offering a seamless cross-channel experience. According to Forrester’s data, while 82 percent of US online consumers are satisfied with buying experiences that began and ended in a store, satisfaction drops to 61 percent for consumers who began their research online and purchased in a store.

Here is the US Online Retail Forecast, 2009-2014 (Forrester Research)

* In the US, Web shopping will account for 8 percent of total retail sales by 2014.
* Three product categories dominate online retail: apparel, footwear, and accessories; consumer electronics; and consumer hardware, software, and peripherals. Together, those categories represent more than 40 percent of total online retail sales in the US.
* By 2014, 53 percent of total retail sales in the US will be influenced by eCommerce as consumers increasingly use the Internet to research products before purchasing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Power of Sound in Advertising

Powerful advertising has the ability to engage both visual and auditory senses. Jingles have always played an important part in lodging brands into our brains and influencing purchase decisions. Sometimes, annoyingly, like Subway's current $5 dollar foot-long ad). Now that's a jingle that's tough to shake. And it does work - or it did on me. When at an airport the other day, I visited my first Subway for a sandwich in years.

A study conducted by Buyology Inc. and Elias Arts, a sound identity company in New York, looked into the impact of sounds in advertising. They wired up 50 volunteers and measured their galvanic, pupil, and brainwave responses to sounds using the latest neuroscience-based research methods.

What was interesting, was that the most powerful sounds were not the familiar and comforting sounds from nature but that of a computer chip, Intel - especially since a computer chip doesn't even have a sound.

The third most powerful sound was the vibration of the cell phone. This sound had a Pavlovian effect on the volunteers who immediately stopped what they were doing to check their phones. Curiously, cell phones on "mute" are not considered to have a sound but as the study shows, the unintended sound of the vibration was powerful. (Hmm - can you create an ownable vibration sound to build brand recognition??).

As marketers, we know that sound is important in generating emotion and brand recognition. For me, this study makes me look at sound in a new light. Here are the results from the 50 volunteers. A small sample to be sure, but it gives directional food for thought.


Non-branded and branded sounds:
1. Baby giggle
2. Intel
3. Vibrating phone
4. ATM / cash register
5. National Geographic
6. MTV
7. T-Mobile Ringtone
8. McDonald's
9. 'Star Spangled Banner'
10. State Farm

Top 10 Branded sounds:
1. Intel
2. National Geographic
3. MTV
4. T-Mobile
5. McDonald's
7. State Farm
8. AT&T Ringtone
9. Home Depot
10 Palm Treo Ringtone

Top 10 Non-branded sounds:
1. Baby giggle
2. Vibrating phone
3. ATM / cash register
4. "Star Spangled Banner"
5. Sizzling steak
6. 'Hail to the Chief'
7. Cigarette light and inhale
8. "Wedding March"
9. "Wish Upon a Star"
10. Late Night with David Letterman Theme

For more on this topic visit Fast Company

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Visa Olympic Ads hit the right tone

It's been great watching the Olympics this year. Normally I don't get too involved. Maybe it's because, being in Seattle, it feels like it's in our backyard. And of course, it's in Vancouver and the Canadians are cleaning up on gold medals and will shortly take home the gold in hockey! (Can you tell what nationality I am?? :)

One of the fun things that I've enjoyed watching are the Olympic-themed ads. And I'm not the only one. As it turns out, American TV viewers like their Olympics – even in the commercials they watch.

A Nielsen survey asking Olympics viewers about commercials aired during NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage through February 20 shows that six of the 10 most liked ads contained an Olympics theme. The ads, aired by Visa, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble, included either a direct mention to the Olympics or imagery alluding to the games.

Americans rewarded Visa the highest ratings of likeability for ads that ran the first week during Olympic prime-time coverage. The emotional spot featuring the story of U.S. speedskater Dan Jansen was liked three times more than the average commercial aired during NBC Olympic telecasts. Visa placed two more ads on the top 10 list, including a spot featuring U.S. skier Julia Mancuso, which earned likeability levels twice as much as the average.

In addition, Visa is running a super integrated marketing campaign along with these ads.

The overall blue hue that the commercials and all other visual elements use it instantly recognizable. Morgan Freeman as spokesperson has a wonderfully strong, provocative yet friendly voice that resonates with both sides of the border.

The website is really engaging. It uses the same creative style and palate as the commercials. While the sweepstakes is the main feature, there are also great vignettes, highlighting several athletes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

8 Lessons from a Local Retailer's success

Over the past twelve months, many shop-fronts across the nation have gone dark. Restaurants, fashion boutiques, housewares, furniture and fixture shops. Yet some retailers continue to thrive, despite their high price points or seemingly luxury or non-essential offerings.

One business that is a true passion of the heart is the book selling business. While many businesses have been both created or rendered obsolete by technology, bookstores have certainly faced their set of challenges. First it was the big box giants like Barnes and Noble, where you could sip your Starbucks and cozy up on a couch and flip through discounted first run best sellers. Then it was Amazon with its convenience of online shopping, book reviews and, unbeatable prices and free shipping. And now, book stores have to brace for another challenge with the advent of the Kindle and iPad.

I’m sure all of us can name at least 2 or 3 of our favourite bookstores that have disappeared. Yet despite the odds, some independent bookstores continue to thrive. Or should I say survive? I doubt the bookstore business is a high margin business – far from it. Those who stay in business I’m sure are working on very thin margins.

One small chain with 11 stores in the Bay Area that has managed to thrive is Books Inc. What are the lessons that book stores, small chains or other independent retail businesses can learn from their success?

  1. Location: They stay away from malls and locate in communities with heavily foot-trafficked areas
  2. Footprint: They have found a smaller footprint (3500 square feet) works best
  3. Financial Management: They are scrupulous about costs – book returns, payroll, payroll hours allotted to each store
  4. Locally Relevant: Much attention is paid to the needs of the surrounding community. Books Inc. buys for each individual store (versus one size fits all). They also include special shopping nights with a portion of proceeds going to local schools and discounts for community book clubs
  5. Customer Service: Friendly and helpful is absolutely key as is staffing the store with people who are passionate about books and enjoy sharing their knowledge and passion with others.
  6. Books Inc. is a destination: They host numerous author readings and book clubs. Some of the clubs include: Classics I forgot to Read, Desert Island (the books you’d want to take on an island), and Down to Science. They also host kid clubs and a writer’s workshop
  7. Leveraging Technology versus Fighting it: While they’ll never be Amazon, they have developed their own affiliate program and you can download eBooks so customers don’t have to shop elsewhere.
  8. Civic-minded and Industry involved: Books Inc. is also very active civically and in their industry. Book Inc., as members of the American Booksellers Association, protested to The Department of Justice, challenging the predatory pricing of best-sellers from Big Box retailers - Walmart, Target & Amazon. Book Inc. are also advocates for shopping local and are members of
    "The mission of the IndieBound Community is to help people across the United States share and find independently-owned businesses. By connecting indie-conscious people with local businesses, we're working to strengthen the health of Main Street ecosystems across the United States".

Ultimately, people vote with their wallets. Every purchase directly impacts the composition and character of one's neighbourhood. If independents can't compete on price and in some instances convenience, then the added-value needs to come from somewhere else. The competitive advantage a local retailer owns is its closeness, connection and knowledge of its community.

So where will you cast your vote today?