Virtual Reality Just Needs Its Own Pokemon GO

Augmented reality has been up and coming for years. There were already augmented reality games for Nokia N95. For various reasons it never really took off. Just as we ticked off augmented reality as the buzzword that will just dwindle and die, Pokemon GO happened.  And in just couple of weeks Nintendo´s stock has gone up (and back down), searches for Pokemon porn (I did not even know about this subgenre) skyrocketed, many people have died, amount of daily users has surpassed Twitter and people spend more time on Pokemon Go than Facebook. And let me repeat, Pokemon GO is an augmented reality app.

The success for Pokemon GO is easy to dissect to these three principles:

1.Easy to start, hard to master
Pokemon Go is simple game, you can start it right away but mastering it takes a lot of time. If you need to explain what you get from VR experience it is too complicated, it has to work right away.

2.Global brand attracting wide range of audience
Pokemon works on many levels and many audiences. For some they are totally relevant at this life stage, for some nostalgia and for some just cute. Until there are blockbuster game or movie (with household name) done in VR, there will be no Pokemon GO phenomenon in VR.

3.Perfect combination of real and digital
Pokemon Go did what Fitbit failed to, got people moving. People still crave for human connection and perversely Pokemon Go has given it. We need cute characters to get us out, move and meet new people. Like Pokemon GO, VR makes our boring reality more interesting but it has even more opportunities. With VR you can totally escape your boring life. Quite an intriguing promise I would say.

Virtual reality will probably also be driven by porn, but there are still couple of hurdles for the success. The VR glasses are still quite clunky and you look dorky when you use it (not to mention you start feeling sick). Therefore, you need more people looking dorky that you can start using VR openly (e.g. skinny jeans, man buns, athleisure). Other part is that VR has not really yet come pass the stunt phase where it is just cool to do something with the technology instead of doing cool things that have true meaning. This is opportunity for advertisers though, because it is still quite easy to make good impression with quite basic VR installations especially in events. This Singleton section was one of the most popular booths in Epicurean festival in Singapore. Main reason was the virtual reality whisky tasting:

singletonvrbooth

There is no question will the VR blow up. It will. The real question is timeline. Two months ago no one would have talked about augmented reality and now it is the hottest technology in town. In this digital age, you just need to one big hit and it will hit immediately.

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Caveman Cleaner and The Art of Standing Out in Gym Shower

There are no low-interest categories, there are just boring run-of-the mill products and more interesting ones.

Despite growth in male grooming sector, men´s beauty products remain still low-interest category. Guys generally could not give a less about what shampoo, body wash or other beauty product they use. Our main heuristics usually are what is cheap, available (hence we use our spouse´s products) and little smell has never hurt anyone, ay?

I bumped into this product in the shower of our gym and immediately caught my attention:
 cavemancleaner

Caveman Cleaner from Bad Labs is perfectly branded product in low-interest category for two particular reasons:

1. Value proposition is clear
I remember when 2-in-1 shampoos came out and you immediately started to wonder why you still need a separate shower gel? Shower is not about pampering yourself, it is a daily chore, you want it to be over quickly. Why would you not put toothpaste or maybe deodorant on that stuff as well? This is a hectic, fast world, there is no time for separate beauty products.

2. Branding is attention-grabbing and focused
Modern life is already too complicated and brands wants us to use different beauty products for different body parts. That just adds stress for modern man. We want to return back to time, when we were hunter-gatherers and did not need to worry about trimming our eyebrows. Our ancestors did only need water from rain, some leaves and charcoal and they seemed happy (until they became extinct). As paleo diet is becoming increasingly popular, why would not you go caveman on your grooming ritual as well?

Our gym shower has probably 20 different male grooming products, this is the only one I noticed and remember.  Saying that you work in low-interest category is not a reason to not be interesting. It is just easy excuse.

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Being Pioneer is Not for the Faint-hearted

Quote about Robert  “Fastest Knife in the West End” Liston, pioneer surgeon from 17th century:

Although Liston was renowned for his success stories, he also developed a reputation for the flamboyancy of his surgical failures. For instance, his joy at amputating a patient´s leg at the thigh in less than three minutes was hindered greatly when he realized he had also inadvertently sawed of patient´s testicles. 

And perhaps, most famously, another leg amputation performed in less than three minutes had the unfortunate result of killing three people: the patient (who survived the surgery but died of gangrene several days later); his young assistant (whose fingers he accidentally sawed off during surgery and who would also later succumb to gangrene); and “a distinguished surgical spectator” whose coattails Liston also slashed. The man, who found himself surrounded by geysers of blood, was so convinced that the knife had pierced his vitals that he immediately “dropped dead from fright”. It was later described as “the only operation in history with 300 percent mortality rate”

Cristin O´Keefe Aptowicz: Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine

Robert Liston gives us good guiding light how to approach anything new:

  1. There is no framework when you are developing something from the scratch, you have to pave your own path.
  2. You cannot always avoid mistakes, but you can always be fast.
  3. If you experiment, it is better to saw other guy´s testicles than your own.
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Auftragstaktik and The Lack of Leadership in Advertising Industry

“No plan survives contact with enemy”
– Helmut von Moltke
 
I have met great people, personalities and borderline geniuses during my years in advertising. What have I encountered less is good leaders and visionary leadership.

The biggest problem in advertising industry is leadership problem. Majority of us (me included) have been promoted because we are great experts. We are good strategists, writers or suits but majority don´t have any experience or natural skills to lead or inspire teams. I would argue also that the major reason for churn in ad agencies is due to bad management and lack vision and strategic vigor. When you don´t have the vision you end up doing things yourself or micro-managing your team which naturally annoys any sensible person.

Because majority of leaders are former experts, only few can do the leap to strategic level from tactical grunt work. Contrary to the stereotypes, the right leadership approach to creative industries can be found from military strategy and of all places in usually rigid and authoritarian Germany. “Auftragstaktik” or Mission command in US, is a mission-type tactics doctrine, which promotes freedom and speed of action within defined constraints. The idea of Auftragstaktik originates with Frederick the Great, who was frustrated by the lack of initiative within his leaders. Military strategist Helmut von Moltke coined the actual idea hundred years later (whose quote above is one of the best articulations of strategy). Currently similar types of command are advocated in US, Canadian, Dutch and British armies. The basic idea of Augftagstaktik is simple:

  1. Leaders give the team clearly defined goal
  2. Leader gives the team specific timeframe to accomplish that goal
  3. Leader lets them accomplish that goal independently

Essentially in Auftragstik you say your team what you want them to achieve but you are not saying how they can achieve that. This should result to two benefits:

  1. The team has the ownership and pride of the particular project. They will become better at solving problems and you also cultivate future leaders. They are closer to the project/actual fight so they should do their decisions where things are actually happening.
  2. The leader frees his/her time from tactics and keeps focused on the broader strategy. The leader should have better visibility of business/the war so he/she should be able to show guidance and vision to the team.

If you cannot give responsibility to your team and don´t trust them, you have either made bad hires or you are control freak. Both things are naturally highly worrying. If your leadership is diluted to micro managing you do more harm than good in your company. Then your choices are either to evolve from manager to true leader by trusting your team or you just have to face the reality that you are not cut as a leader at the first place.

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Economic Graph: Why Microsoft bought LinkedIn?

“You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness, or some combination of all of those emotions. Every member of exec team has experienced the same, but we´ve had months to process”
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn Ceo

LinkedIn was bought for $26.2 billion in an all-cash deal this week. It is one of the biggest acquisitions this year and the biggest acquisition in the history of Microsoft. Failure rate of mergers and acquisitions in general is somewhere between 70% and 90% and Microsoft has not really been an exception. This deal might still actually make sense. Below I present some of the main points why Microsoft bought LinkedIn.

“LinkedIn will become the social fabric across all of Microsoft”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Data is power
Firstly, Microsoft is mainly buying access to the lucrative professional audience. LinkedIn has 433 million users of which pretty much everyone is on their target audience. LinkedIn will be run as a separate entity (a bit like Instagram within Facebook), but naturally there is vast amount of insights to be gained from the platform that would benefit Microsoft in multiple ways (product development etc.). Microsoft will want to create an economic graph, alike to Facebook´s social graph but with people with money.
economicgraph
Better productivity: Goodbye work-life balance
Microsoft has been aggressively pushing their cloud solutions. The first possible use cases Satya Nadella mentioned in his memo were around connecting Office 365, Dynamics and LinkedIn database. You could for example get articles in LinkedIn newsfeed based on the actual project you are working on. Or Office could suggest you to connect with expert to connect via LinkedIn to help you complete a task you are working on. When you are going to a new business meeting you would get automatically the background information from LinkedIn. Great functions, but are they worth the $26 billion price tag?

LinkedIn as a CRM Platform
Currently Microsoft is at fourth place in CRM software, behind Salesforce, Sap and Oracle. Merging databases with LinkedIn could bring Microsoft much needed advantage in this field. Of course around 75% of CRM implementations fail, but that also means that there is target market not particularly happy with their current products.

This deal might be really good thing for the future of LinkedIn. The platform has not really evolved from recruiting site, which is a challenge if majority of your audience is not actively looking for a job. Although some argue that LinkedIn is a content company, only 25% of LinkedIn users return every month to the site. Connecting with Microsoft might give it a boost that it needs to stay relevant in the competitive social media space. Twitter could do with similar boost.

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Marketer Time Gap: Why Singapore Overspends in Print Media?

I was astonished to read the new report from Datalicious and eConsultancy about where the media budgets are generally going in Singapore. Based on the respondents on that survey, they use 42% of their marketing budget to print, although audience uses only 10% of their time there. This feels like a massive overspending in print and total waste of money.

eConsultancy & Datalicious: Media Budgets Index- Comparing Media Budget Allocation to media consumption

eConsultancy & Datalicious: Media Budgets Index- Comparing Media Budget Allocation to media consumption (2016)

That people are spending time on some channel does not necessarily mean that you can reach people there effectively. E.g. people spend time on WhatsApp where advertisers are not allowed. Or TV viewership is moving towards Netflix, where you cannot interrupt the audience with TV ads. Impact is not equal to time. Still this statistic gives indication that advertisers are not using their media money as wisely as they could. These results strengthen the five principles I have encountered anecdotally during my time in here:

  1. Stop overspending on print. The time consumers spent on print will not be growing so do not let the affordability fool you.
  2. Keep your TV spend around where it is. It is expensive channel, but still one of the most effective mediums to gain massive reach and also tell emotional story.
  3. Consider the role of digital for your company. Your audience is spending bigger proportion of their time every year in digital. If you are not understanding what your consumers are doing there, you will be marketing in places where your customers aren´t. The question should not be should you invest on digital, but how you will invest on digital.
  4. Reconsider radio. Radio is the unsung hero of the media mix. Cost-effective channel that people still spend surprisingly long time with. During my whole advertising career, radio has always been pariah of different media types but based on these results there is opportunity to improve your media effectiveness by adding it to your media mix. Plus it is opportunity to do some really great ads.
  5. Based on the same research over half of the marketers are not using attribution or don´t even know what it is. If you are not measuring and assessing the effectiveness of your different media channels, start now. Otherwise you keep spending on print, because it doesn´t seem to be completely broken method based on your results (which are not based on attribution). Unfortunately there will be no transition from working ok to not working at all.

Throughout my whole career, I have advocated for digital and it seems that my clients have been waking up to the consumer reality. This study shows that there is a still lot of work to do to make all the marketers realize the current lay of the land.

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Spot the Pseudomarketer

Martin Gardner´s “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science” is classic book for skeptic. What strikes a chord for everyone in working in advertising is when he is describing the paranoia in pseudoscientists. Does these character traits sound familiar?

  1. He considers himself a genius.
  2. He regards his colleagues, without exception, as ignorant blockheads.
  3. He believes himself unjustly persecuted and discriminated against.
  4. He has strong compulsions to focus his attacks on the greatest scientists and the best-established theories (actually this is probably only thing where pseudoscientist differs from pseudomarketer. Usually pseudomarketers are too spineless to really fight the status quo).
  5. He often has a tendency to write in complex jargon, in many cases making use of terms and phrases he himself has coined.

Usually these traits are more probable the more removed the marketer is from the actual work. For pseudomarketer it is obvious that he is genius if he has not really ever done any marketing activities himself. Nothing is more dangerous than a moron who thinks he is visionary.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Blood

nobloodshouldholdusback

This Bodyform ad might be my favorite ad of the year.

Insight: It´s ok to draw some blood when you do sports.

Especially FMCG category is filled with fake images of shiny happy people who are so detached from reality that I wonder how the brand managers and agencies can live with themselves. Our audience is not stupid. Having blue liquid in sanitary pad commercials has been a running joke for as long I remember seeing advertisements.

Many of the brands might have been toying about showing actual blood in the ads; the idea is not that novel. What instead is novel, that Bodyform had the balls (or ovaries in this case) to actually do what none of the other brands had not dared to do before.

Because of popularity of Game of Thrones, Crossfit and MMA, our audience is accustomed to more rough and rugged imaginary. Many of the marketers have not realized this sense of aesthetics and that is why many of the ads nowadays look over-polished and just plain fake.

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Ferment and Distill Your Ideas

“Alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, may produce all the effects of drunkenness.” 
– Oscar Wilde

I like alcohol in its various forms and like with many things the more you know the background of it, the more you enjoy the experience. Therefore I don´t only consume ethanol, I read a lot literature about it (hence camouflaging it from problem to hobby). Besides Three Martini lunches, the art of making booze and the art of making great marketing have lots of similarities. For example this passage about the difference of fermentation and distillation in the “Proof” by Adam Rogers captures something essential about our field of work as well:

Fermentation is a natural process, as close to a miracle as a science-minded type like me would ever acknowledge. Over human history we have learn to harness and adapt it. We domesticated the micro-organisms that make it possible, designed containers friendlier to it, created business around it. But a winemaker taking credit for fermentation is like beekeeper taking credit for honey. Fermentation would happen whether men and women were here on earth or not. If a fig spontaneously ferments in the forest, a monkey is there to hear it. (And eat the fig. And get drunk.  

Distillation, though, is technology. Human being invented it; we came up with the process and developed the equipment. It requires the ability to boil a liquid and reliably collect the resulting vapors, which sounds simple. But to do it you have to learn a lot of other skills first. You have to be able to control fire, work metal, heat things and cool them, make airtight, pressurized vessels. You need a big brain with wrinkled cortex, maybe some opposable thumbs. But most of all you need a desire to change your environment instead of just live with what you have. Distillation takes intelligence and will. To distill, literally or metaphorically, requires the hubris to believe you can change the world.
 

The great marketers understand the difference of fermentation and distillation and when to utilize both of the methods to come up with ideas.

“Fermentation may have been a greater discovery than fire”
– David Wallace

Ferment: There is time and place to rely on your emotions and gut feeling. Fermentation is a skill that you either have or not. Let it flow and don´t try to control things. Use just pad and pen, technology does not make fermenting better. Usually when fermenting, the quantity is better than quality. Third beer tastes better than the first one. There is time to distill later on.

“Civilization begins with distillation”
-William Faulkner

Distill: After you had your ideas ferment freely it is time to distill your ideas to purest form. You have to try to control your ideas, make sense out of them. Use technology to find the essence of your idea. Distillation you can learn when you have the discipline. The less is more. If you have truly potent idea, one shot is enough and you don´t need to mix it with anything.

The best marketers are the masters of in balancing between chaos and discipline.

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7 Golden Eggs of Management Wisdom from Angry Birds

Being a patriotic Finn, I naturally went to see Angry Birds –movie immediately it premiered in Singapore. It was positive surprise and I am happy that it has done well in box office. What I liked about the film that it wasn´t as sugarcoated animation as the other mainstream Disney productions. Although it is an international production, there was a nice Finnish undertone to it.

Although it is mainly slapstick comedy in the vain of old-school Warner Bros –movies, I would actually recommend every leader to see it. Angry Birds movie has quite a lot of management wisdom

1. Hire misfits

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together”
-Malcolm Forbes

misfits

The unlikely heroes of Angry Birds –movie are getting together because they are forced to. They have been put to anger management class because they don´t fit the mold of happy-go-lucky birds. Red has true anger management issues. Bomb literally has tendency to explode. Chuck is delinquent with ADHD and Terrence, well… We don´t really know Terrence, but he has a dark secret. Not to mention his grunts are done by Sean Penn. Bunch of weirdos is a fair assessment.

Many leaders do the mistake of hiring only people who are similar as they are. Successful organizations embrace diversity and people who are not afraid to go against the grain. The truly great individuals are not socializing cheerleaders, but can be quite difficult to work with. They are driven by good results and not by politics. If you have surrounded yourself with Yes-men, no one will say that you are heading towards wrong direction.

2.True leaders emerge when there is downturn

“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth”
Mike Tyson

Anyone can lead a company when it is going well. When going gets tough, only the tough gets going. Red is the hero of the film although in the beginning he is frowned upon by gullible naïve positive-thinking birds. He knew that visiting pigs were up to something and that something is not anything good. Not surprisingly pigs stole their eggs. At those tough moments leaders rise from the managers and you want someone who is able to do hard decisions. Red rises through the occasion and knows it is time for action.

3.Business is war

“Whoever said, It´s not whether you win or lose that counts, probably lost”
-Martina Navratilova

Having a corporate retreat is a nice add-on, but the main thing why people would stay on your organization is that your company is growing. Best incentive to stay in company is success. That growth comes from beating your opponents, simple as that. You have to recognize who are the birds (especially angry ones) and pigs in your circles. Angry Birds you should promote and pigs you should try to explode.

4.Positive thinking does not take you anywhere

“I may not have positive attitude, but I am positive that I have attitude”
-Unknown

When the true nature of pigs has been revealed, guess what kinds of birds are needed? Positive nice team players? Nah, they want truly angry birds ready to cause some wreck.

Working in US-based organizations pretty much all my working life I am still astonished by all the cheerleading bullshit that goes around (mainly via e-mail). You win some new business and suddenly you get some random congratulatory messages from people you have not ever heard of and probably never will afterwards. Sending cheerleading e-mails is easy; putting your skin truly in the game is difficult. Reply to all is a nice substitute to really doing some work. That´s why I don´t celebrate good presentations, NB wins or other achievements at work. Nailing those moments constantly should be your de facto mode. I nail my presentations always. If Damien Lillard does not celebrate after winning a game winner you should not either:

 5. Management by Perkele

“If something isn’t happening quickly enough, it is necessary for the top managers to slam their fists on the table and yell, ‘Perkele!’ Repeatedly, if necessary.”
Tarja Moles (Xenophobe´s Guide to the Finns)

You should always prefer swift decision making to prolonged pondering and involving all participants before making decision. Action trumps intellectualizing.

6.Life is just a series of failures

“Persistance can change failure into extraordinary achievement”
-Matt Biondi

 

The first hour of Angry Birds movie is just a series of failures. Our anger management class led by Red just have cock-up after another. To succeed in life, you have to be stubborn to forget all your failures and just keep on going.

7. It does not matter to what you believe as you believe in something

““No, what he didn’t like about heroes was that they were usually suicidally gloomy when sober and homicidally insane when drunk.”
-Terry Pratchett (The Color of Magic)

The birds are searching for the mythical Mighty Eagle to save their island. When they finally meet their hero, it is a let down (especially as they see him peeing to the lake). The point of Mighty Eagle is not so much is it true or true, but that it gives hope in any case. We Finns hope for World championship in ice hockey every year and that hope keep us going. Sometimes (not too often) that hope has come true. In this cold world, we need heroes. It is unlikely that you have any hero to look up to in real life so then you have to turn into sports and culture to be motivated.

And lastly, the most important lesson of them all, whenever it is possible listen to KRS-One:

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