Tuesday, 30 July 2013

what were you thinking alfa romeo?

I have been pondering whether or not to write this post for the past few weeks. I can't contain my frustration anymore and need to vent my anger and disbelief with the world.

Now, I'm not a creative at a creative agency and I'm not a planner at a creative agency. But my job as a strategist in a media agency requires me to think a lot about how brands should/could communicate with people and I admit to loving the on-going challenge (because it is a challenge!)

I am sure that creative agency frenemies would tend to agree with my question "what the bloody hell were the team behind the latest Alfa Romeo ads thinking?" If you haven't seen the guff, here they are
[WARNING: prepare to want to punch your screen].



Ahhhh... annoying, right?

In my opinion they are guilty of the following fails:

1. No consideration for how real people talk to each other about brands
2. Completely lacking any real human insight
3. Makes Alfa Romeo (and the people are who drive them) appear super arrogant
3. No-one would ever want to be friends with dickheads that said "It's not a car, It's an Alfa Romeo"
4. Makes me actively want to avoid any association with the Alfa Romeo brand
5. Uncampaignable due to the lack of any actual comms idea, so will only ever live as broadcast annoyance
6. A load more subjective reasons which wouldn't be helpful for this discussion!

When I think about what the ad is trying to do, it seems to me that Alfa Romeo are trying to show that Alfa Romeo drivers believe that driving an Alfa Romeo is so superior and incomparable to driving any other machine that they don't even refer to their auto-mobile as a car (pfft, a car, that would be ridiculous!).

But the execution is so ridiculously up-it's-own-arse and brand-out-focused that is just comes across as 30 seconds of demonstrating how hugely detached from reality the Alfa Romeo brand really is.

Am I alone in my hate for this material?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

brand behaviour is better than an any advert

I haven't been able to stop thinking about The Candidate video that Heineken released last month. If you haven't seen it, press play and spend 4 minutes watching the above video.

The reason I love this piece of branded content is that it encapsulates what Heineken as a brand stands for more than any advert could.

Who is responsible for this piece of branded content?

The HR department or the Marketing department?

That answer is actually irrelevant.

For people working in marketing (advertising being just one of those disciplines, remember) branded content is one of the latest "must haves" in hope of capturing the attention of very distracted bunches of people. We spend far too long as organisations and agencies trying to come up with the next big You Tube hit (no client wants a small hit, do they).

We tire ourselves trying to understand what makes video content so contagious that people want to willingly pass it around their friends. We rarely know how to measure the effectiveness of that contagion, but that's for another post.

When a brand acts from the inside out it has the power and capability to create engaging stories from around the business that haven't been contrived out of a marketing or advertising brief. After watching this video you can't help but think what a cool place it would be to work at Heineken. That it is a place that appreciates humour, socialisation and yes, sport.

These emotional kind of associations are the most powerful for existing or potential customers of brands, because they are stored in our long-term memories. When people make purchase decisions, without even realising it, they are filtering information about what they know about a product and brand. While this is largely what the marketing department is tasked to influence, I love that this branded content from Heineken proves that brands are not built out of advertising briefs and that actually when a brand behaves according to it's personality throughout the business it is impactful and effective.

I am sure HR guys out there would also agree that this is also a radical way to not only attract the right kind of talent but more importantly employ and retain the right brew of people.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

the difficult first post

image via here

I've been thinking about writing this blog for a long time. I registered Idea Provocateur on blogger about 12 months ago but have been a bit too chicken to commit my thoughts to the bloggersphere.

But, here goes.

This difficult first post is about awards. We are obsessed with awards in the advertising industry (as are most industries, I know). I understand why... celebrate great work and the people behind the great work to push us collective bunch of thinkers to be better and to achieve more.

To clarify, I'm not saying that we shouldn't celebrate great work in an awards-y fashion, but I think we need to address a couple of things.

we're all award snobs anyway 
There are so many award shows now that we are all becoming award snobs, aren't we? It's a lucrative business (for the awards peeps) with entries costing $300USD upwards. Throw in the cost of design and production of supporting materials, agencies are spending upwards of thousands of dollars on entering awards each year.

As agencies profit margins shrink, there becomes a natural hierarchy and we are left with a choice architecture... asking ourselves which awards will deliver the best return? Which will attract the best people and the best clients?

If we are honest with ourselves there are only really a few handful of accolades that we would want to add to the company email signature.

same old, same old
While our industry leaps in multiple directions at an unprecedented pace; the award categories and voting processes are an outdated vintage.

Agencies strive to attract the best, the freshest and the most curious talent through their doors to create and (re)define the advertising and communications industry of the future. But we are victim to letting the old schoolers critique and award work. I am not being an ageist - anything but! I just think we should have more diversity in who judges against the criteria. And in diversity I also mean people not directly involved with the industry.

On the subject of categories, it really annoys me that we have "new" categories like "effectiveness".... shouldn't all campaigns be effective? So why do we single out specific case studies that can demonstrate effectiveness?

those that PR themselves best, win
Often it is the campaigns that have been well PRd by the agency that win. It is a sound strategy... Building memory structures around your campaign so that when awards season comes around and the judges look at your entry and think "ah, i remember seeing/hearing that" is of course a genius thing to do.

But, I think we see too many well PRd campaigns winning awards based on their familiarity over effectiveness.

This is not an exhaustive list, but my starter for ten. Would love to know your thoughts too.

*sigh* difficult first post complete