Friday, 30 November 2007

My favourite brands continued - Ben & Jerry's

You might have guessed I love ice cream, and Ben & Jerry's are definitely my favourite. I'm reading Ben & Jerry's Double Dip at the moment and I really recommend it if you're interested in looking into how they built their business and what it means to be a values led business. It has a lot of accounts of their personal experience and the experience of a lot of other people (Ben & Jerry's employees, customers, business partners, etc.) really interesting and easy to read as well.

I love the fact that Ben & Jerry's are authentic. I can really get that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are two guys just like me or anyone else. Their commitment to make a great product, please their customers, make a difference in the world with their business, and have fun along the way is really inspiring. I could keep going on about it but I'll probably be paraphrasing the book more than anything right now, so better if you read it.

In their last campaign for them in the UK, Fallon managed to cram all this information in their spot, released last summer (viewable on the Fallon website with the work they did on other good campaigns for Ben & Jerry's, I haven't found a video of it on Youtube).

I checked a couple of other ads and I really liked the campaign done in the US (I think it was last year realised by Laika/HOUSE. The premise for these series of short ads are a funny visual representation of the names of the Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavours. I think they're fun and pretty clever:





Add-on: I actually just saw this video presenting Ben & Jerry's from Ecobiz which is interesting.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Online Evolution?

I'm slowly and steadily evolving my online identity (another point of view might be that I'm becoming more and more of a complete geek), I just opened a Flickr account. So at the moment I'm on MySpace, Facebook, Xing, LinkedIn, Del.ico.us, Google Reader (currently 32 subscriptions), Hotmail, YouTube, Amazon, TED, Second Life and I started my own Blog (on Blogger). Next in line are Twitter and Technorati I think...

That's already 13 different sites to follow an
d/or participate in. Really, I wonder how many things you have to be signed up on to be up to speed with the digital world these days... And that's only until the next next hot thing shows up, which can't be very far away... Oh well, I'm having fun and it's a fascinating world to explore! I just wonder how I'm going to be able to keep up when I have a new job - it's a good thing I'm want to get into digital and advertising, so it will pretty much be part of my job to be up to date with all this!

I just read earlier the excellent post from Skelliewag about posting Flickr images, so I just had a quick look and found this beautiful pic:


Photo"Christmas #2" by Kevin Dooley

To me, this is the Internet: I'm one of the intersections, and you're another. Can you see how we're connected?


The more intersections you have, the stronger your online presence. Each line represents a site or an online community, they are coloured so you can easily determine at a glance the influence of each of them and much they are used. Simple, really - Just like the Internet!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

My favourite brands continued - Doritos

I didn't realise it was almost a week since my last post... I actually did such a great job of advertising Nintendo to myself that I was just compelled to clean the dust off my GameCube and start playing Metroid Prime, which I had bought and never played...

Anyways, let's talk about the little bits of gold given that's what "Doritos" means. I'll have to watch myself and be careful not to go on a huge snack eating binge after this.

I'm a complete sucker for crisps, particularly corn crisps and these little triangles come first on my list, they crunch and taste great. It's also a family thing: I have 3 siblings and whenever we meet, you can sure there'll be a bag of them not far... Beyond that, I've looked into what they've been doing lately on the communication side and found out one of the most amazing campaigns they launched last year in the US, called "Crash the Superbowl". As everyone knows, the Superbowl is the most watched event on TV in the US, about 90 million Americans tune it to it every year, it's the most expensive time slots for advertising and unofficially became a competition for the best ads as well.

Last year, Doritos decided to give the power to its consumers with this new campaign. Starting online, they built a cool looking 3d website called"Snack Strong Productions" that looks like a kind of Universal Studios Theme Park. Anyone could upload their own Doritos ad, the videos were viewable online and people were invited to vote for their favourite one. The winning video of the competition would be broacasted during the 2007 SuperBowl. I think it's a brilliant idea, I don't think anyone has done such a thing before and it anchors digital as a backbone for an integrated campaign that truly interacts with the brand's consumers - it's all going T shaped as they say... I have to find out more about how successful the campaign was, but I know there was over 1100 applicants for the competition where they weren't expecting to have more than 200, and here's the winner:



According to USA Today, the ad was voted 4th best out of the 62 adds shown during the Superbowl, and this is the first time Frito-Lay makes it into the Top 5. User generated content rules it seems... The campaign also won a Gold Media Lion at Cannes this year. You can read about the winners success on their blog: The Doritos Story. And now Youtube is featuring hundred's of videos of other applicants, that many Doritos ads being viewd by thousands of people, here are the 5 finalists and some comments from the Doritos marketing department:



With the success of the previous campaign, Dorits decided to renew the Crash the Superbowl campaign this year, this time with music - I fail to see the connection between music and Doritos, at least at first thought, but I guess if it works, why not. You can read a USA Today article about it here.

I think the x-13D flavour experiment campaign produced by Doritos this year was very interesting as well. They released a new bag of crips under the mysterious X-13D flavour, more expensive than the others and invited consumers to guss which flavour it was as part of a competition. (it turned out to be "Cheeseburger"). I think the idea was brilliant as well and I wonder how well it sold. I saw some videos on Youtube of people trying it and saying there were disappointed, but I guess it's still buzz and more word of mouth for Doritos. In any case, I'm really happy my favourite brand of crips is embracing interactivity with consumers in an original and engaging way. Here's a post about it on Brand Autopsy.

I didn't find much about what they were doing on the advertising side in the UK, but I did find out that Doritos was the 4th fastest rising brand this year in the top 100 grocery goods in the UK with a growth of 18% and making into the 91st position. (from "The UK's most valuable grocery brands" on www.intangiblebusiness.com).

To finish, I think it would be nice to see Doritos do more things of a socially oriented intention. That said, I have found they participate in one venture that I think is pretty cool. They sponsor a site called "Do Something" Anyone can submit a project they are commited to realising and they can win a grant to realise it check it out.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

My favourite brands continued - Nintendo

I'll always remember the first time I saw "Super Mario Bros." played on the NES console. I was eight years old and visiting friends of my parents with my father and elder brother in Long Island, NY. I was fascinated, it was clearly the best thing ever and I needed to have one for myself - the strange and mysterious name of Nintendo stuck to my mind as being the best, most fun and technologically advanced games. I knew about and had played the hand held Donkey Kong game (you know, the orange split screen one where Mario made his debut as "jump man") but I hadn't associated that with Nintendo yet, the NES is where it started for me and a lot of other people.

Nintendo is the oldest existing video game company and console manufacturer, in fact the company was created in 1889, they started by making playing cards and started making video games end of the 70's after hiring the people that are at the heart of Nintendo's success: Gunpei Yokoi and Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Nintendogs, etc.). Nintendo is Japan's third most valuable listed company with a market value of over $85 billion.

During the NES and Super NES generations, Nintendo's communication was mostly based on the fact that they were the hottest things in town. Their slogan until 1992 was "Now you're playing with power!". This might bring back some memories (and just the haircuts are worth it!):



And this one which seems to come straight out of James Cameron's Aliens or maybe even Tron:



And this is probably one of the cheesiest ads I've ever seen, for "The Legend of Zelda" apparently it says it was banned, I'll have to look into it:



They kept the same style of message at the beginning of the Super NES times:



Nintendo was also the first video games company following the 1983 games crash to introduce a "seal of quality" which was mostly a marketing strategy to reassure consumers that the games sold were well made and would be suitable for the entire family. Thinking about it now, it actually doesn't mean that much (they've now changed it) but it worked for me as a kid, I remember I looked out for the seal, and that definitely meant it was quality for me! It closely associated the words and I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same for a lot of people. Simply put: Nintendo = Quality. Of course, their products generally reflect this quality, otherwise they wouldn't have had a lasting effect.

Nintendo dominated the home console market with the NES (60M units sold vs Sega MS 13M) and Super NES (49M units sold vs Sega MD 29M), until the release of Sony's Playstation. Nintendo had created a strong family and child oriented image, and Sony positioned the Playstation for a more mature market and marketed the console as a necessary element of a living room HiFi system alongside the TV. In that time, Nintendo stayed behind in the "console war", though still making profitable products and leading in the handheld console market.

Now I think that what's happening right in the console market and Nintendo's choices are fascinating. Rather than trying to make a bigger and better console, they started looking at the way games were played, started looking at the vast amount of the population that doesn't play video games rather than trying to win back market shares from the relatively small portion of people that does. The trend had already began with the release of the handheld Nintendo DS and is now continued with the Wii, released a year ago. With the Wii Nintendo has concentrated on the experience of playing and creating fun games accessible to everyone.

I think the $200M advertising campaign to launch the Wii is brilliant, with the slogan "Wii would like to play", simple and to the point, to me watching the ad is infectious, I just want to go play! Portraying a wide variety of people tells us anyone can enjoy the wii, of any age or background. I think the major and impressive shift for the video game industry in the campaign is that the focus of the advertising is on the people playing, and not the technology anymore. (I'm making a uninformed assertion here, I'll have to research this more, but it feels right)



Have you created a Mii? I don't ave the console (yet) but I went to see some friends who have it and they created my "Mii" the experience was exactly that, it was really fun!



All right it's a long post, but I'm close to being done. This one is hilarious, it's a spoof on the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads:



The Financial Times announced in September this year that the Wii had outsold the Xbox 360, which came out a year previous, and is far outselling the Playstation 3 as well. And with the release of Super Mario Galaxy, widely acclaimed as one of the best video game ever made (and in some cases the best) it looks like the Wii is this Christmas's console of choice. I know that when I saw the new Mario ad, just a few seconds were enough for me to definitely want one, I don't even play video games any more but I'll make an exception for this one - just need to get a job first!

My favourite brands

I've been working on what my favourite brands are and why, which I quickly found out can become a pretty vast question. Even though after giving it a bit of thought it's not that hard to identify what they are for me, the "why" part can be extensively expanded. I'm still doing some research, so I'll probably add things later as well.

So here goes: Nintendo, Doritos, LEGO, Ben & Jerry's, and Disney.

First of all these are my personal favourites because my experience of them is directly linked to my past, great moments and memories of my childhood, teenage years, and actually up to nowadays as well. The positive experiences and value I've had from these brands has always far outweighted the very few times they've disappointed me.

I've found them over time to be reliable for value, memorable in their communication, and I've been loyal to them for most of my life - not that I necessarily buy their products every week or never those of their competition, but these do really stand out for me. I know that I whenever I see an ad from them, I pay attention, and also generally want to run buying whatever that was (I don't always do that either) and I generally share my experience of these brands with others in a good way. It would really take them doing a lot of really bad stuff to come out of my favourite list.

I'll add a French saying to this, roughly translated: "You can't argue taste or colours". Now there's much more that can be said, argued, reasoned, explained about the brands themselves and I am going to expand my answer for each brand separately in other posts, but these are the core reasons why these are my personal favourites.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

WWF giant origami

I had a great meeting with Amelia Torode at VCCP this morning, it was good to have some straight feedback about what I have to be working on, where I'm missing things (lots) and where I'm (at least potentially) good. I've gone to work on some things and will give more details about that over the weekend.


It was a beautiful day and I wasn't too far, so I decided to walk to the South Bank and go see the WWF giant paper plane and boat created for a petition to make the climate change bill stronger, you can still sign the petition here or go directly to Gabriel's Wharf and sign the boat. All the names of the people having signed the petition were on there, but I didn't find mine... According to Iain Tait (from whose blog I found out about the whole thing in the first place) the origami are going to be there until Monday, go have a look and sign the petition!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Damn it!

I was just googling stuff (as you do) and found out there's another blog with the same name as mine, and they were there before me... I'm sure there are others, but this one looks good. The logo is also pretty cool looking (but not the same as my "power to the ice cream: vanilla cone and giant scoop symbol!") and they seem up to interesting stuff: http://www.icecreamforeveryone.com

Blogs

I'm pretty new to the Blogosphere (I really hate that word, shame I wasn't present at the meeting where it was decided, I would have voted for something else...) but I'm really enjoying it. The amount of amazing content all over the place is just mind boggling. I wonder how I'm going to keep up with my subscriptions when I get a new job... We'll see, I'll figure something out.

In any case, I was out in Norfolk this weekend with a bunch of friends - really cool, a friend's parents own Thrigby Wildlife Gardens, we essentially spent the weekend in a zoo, it was awesome - we were reading the papers on Sunday and a friend starts talking about how she hates blogs. I thought that was crazy for someone currently studying journalism and found myself surprised to quickly jump up to defend blogs. She had the impression that blogs were just a bunch of people basically complaining about their lives online (which I'm sure there are some). I told her to check out Boing Boing and she loves it! My first blog convert! I might be on my way to digital sainthood, who knows...

Firebrand TV

I just got this from Ze Frank's blog, I think it's a pretty good idea.

Firebrand TV: for those who get annoyed when their ads get interrupted every 5 minutes with some kind of TV content. Its in the beta version but working well for what I've seen. I just had a look for 2 minutes, I don't know how big their ad portfolio is, but I bet it can grow very quickly. I like the fact that they give the details about the agency that realised the ad and there a few cool features, like you can select a brand and watch all the available ads for it, etc.

Worth a look!

Monday, 12 November 2007

APSotW

I just found out on Russel Davies' blog that the new Account Planning School of the Web assignment has just started and that Paul Colman is taking care if it. I didn't about this little competition before and I just spent some time reading about the last few assignments, which was defnitely really interesting. I'm definitely participating and this time it's about creating something for the Extra brand (the chewing gum).

Reading more and more about what's happening in the world of planning, strategy, advertising, and marketing, I'm really happy and grateful a lot of senior and respected people in the industry take time out to create and support these kind of competitions open for everyone interested in participating. It's a great opportunity to have constructive feedback as well.

The task is due in a month, I'll keep you posted with what I come up with!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Circus and Advertising

I went to see James Thiérrée's new show at Sadlers Wells (Au Revoir Parapluie) yesterday evening, it was really beautiful. Unfortunately it's only on until tomorrow, but if you don't have plans tonight or tomorrow it's definitely worth it and there are probably some tickets left. I didn't know of him before last night (my flatmate teaches circus skills, which is how I heard about the show in the first place) and learned he was Charlie Chaplin's grandson.

Beautifully choreographed show, subtle, sweet and some very funny parts. I really enjoyed it and thought it was inspired, it was also the perfect time to get out of the house and forget about my job search for a bit. Remember his name for next year if you can't make this time.

Slightly different topic, though in the same evening and relating circus to advertising, my flatmate showed me the "Effortless" Brylcreem ad, which I hadn't seen. The actor is a friend or acquaintance of my his and a really good juggler. I think all the tricks he manages in one take are brilliant, a good ad, I wonder how well it worked:



There's also the making-of for the people interested in how all the tricks are done, which is pretty cool too:

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Good Things...

A lot of people might have already seen the neverending website made for Orange's latest campaign by Poke, it's been around several blogs. Have a look if you haven't seen it, it's a beautiful piece of work, and a lot of fun animations all over the site.

I just saw yesterday the TV ad for the same campaign "Good things should never end". I thought it was pretty cool, though I wonder about the choice of the rainbow - it feels similar to the Sony Bravia ads. I was mainly left with the word colour in mind, not really anything about mobile phones - but that's just me.

Otherwise I think the TV ad and the website work really well together, but there are unfortunately no mention of the website on the TV ad - they only refer to orange.co.uk and there isn't any obvious mention to the new campaign on there either.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Marketing Research

I've almost finished reading Truth, Lies and Advertising, the must read for anyone wanting to get into planning. I'm loving it and I'm glad it's confirming everything I thought planning was and a lot more!

Jon Steel talks quite a lot about the pitfalls you can get into when conducting research whether it be qualitative or quantitative. Completely in context with my reading the book, I just had a call for a marketing research which was pretty funny. This lady starts talking (I had a hard time understanding her accent) and tells me she is conducting a marketing survey about cars. I'm quite happy to comply and she starts with her in-depth questionnaire. I found out later in the conversation that the survey was for Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Benz.

Now here's the thing you want to know about me: I don't have a driver's license, I don't know how to drive, I don't have a car, I'm not very interested in cars and the last thing on my mind is buying one. So I'm usually pretty oblivious to car advertising, unless there's something stunning about it.

Not once did they ask me whether I have a car or not. I would have thought that to be the first question to ask... At the very end, she asked what car I had and she didn't have an option for "none" on her multiple choice answers! They just assumed I have a car. I don't think I'm very representative of the group of people they would want to advertise to, but anyway they have my raving about wanting to buy Porsches, Isuzu Rodeos, Nissan Pathfinders (I said I was in the middle of reading the book, that's the first that came in mind!) - while being able to cite numerous car brands but not having seen a single ad about cars in the last 4 weeks, I only remembered BMW sponsoring ted.com talks.

A lot of the questions were about which car ads I remembered within the last 4 weeks. That's pretty difficult to remember all of a sudden, out of context. That just shows again how important it is to be asking relevant questions...