Monthly Archives: April 2014

#Cockinasock and the Twisted World of Male Charity

This is a casual observation about men & women:

You should not let men try to invent charity campaigns. Basically they are just excuses to do stupid things legitimately (which men do in general without any higher goal). Usually this involves either making yourself look dumb and spreading the word in Internet:

Case-in-point #1: Movember
November is the month, when guys get their inner Hell´s Angel or Village People, (depending on the moustache style) out. How many actually know that the “idea” for this is to raise awareness of prostate cancer?

Case-in-point #2: #Cockinasock
Basically guys are taking pictures with socks covering their penises, posting them on Internet and hashtagging them with #cockinasock. Apparently this should raise awareness to testicular cancer. Or guys just some sort of excuse to practice their exhibitionism.

I am all for having fun and giving money to good causes as well*, but somehow it just feels fishy to me. Grow moustache and put the cock in the sock because you feel like it. You do not need charity to be your Trojan horse to do it. Men should not need any reason for exercising the acts of stupidity.

Be a man: do idiotic things because it is in your nature and it feels great!

*Although there are some good arguments why awareness campaigns are waste of time & money.

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Sharing Economy: A Threat or An Opportunity for Your Business?

“Our guests don’t want the Airbnb feel and scent”

– Christopher Norton, EVP of global product and operations at the Four Seasons (Fast Company 184/April 2014)

If I would be running hotel chain at the moment, I would not be saying comments like one above. I would be trying to learn meticulously what Airbnb is doing well and taking some cues to my existing business. Some of the hotel companies are already experiment with it, like W Hotels and Desks Near Me collaboration.

There are two major trends driving the sharing economy which are affecting your business as well :

1)   Digital tools have enabled global sharing economy services. This provides adequate scale for the companies to make financial sense. For consumers this means user-friendly services and tapping into global offerings.

2)   Ownership is not cool: experience is the new Rolex. Owning stuff is not ecological or smart: people are increasingly more investing in services and experiences.

Sharing economy is not a means to an end. Where it has already been successful (accommodation & transportation), it is actually improving the current experience. Majority of Airbnb users could use hotels as well, but they are bored with existing Hotel offerings and want more personalized experience. Uber works best in markets, where there are problems with Taxi services or public transport. Consumers are ruthless: they select the best service nevertheless of how it is produced. It works other way around as well. When trying to reach mainstream success, your experience has to be able to compete with “normal” offerings as well. Price plays naturally part as well, but only low price cannot be the competitive difference for the new services.

It is likely that many sharing economy initiatives will fail and badly. Some of them will succeed and in big way. Airbnb founders will not be the only billionaires emerging from sharing economy. That is why brands should experiment with sharing economy initiatives now, when their category has not yet been disrupted with the strong sharing economy player.

Other option is to only concentrate on suing the new competitors and hope that they go away. Unfortunately, that is not a winning solution. Successful companies have to grow and constant innovation is the only way for that growth.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Tigerair Infrequent Flyers Club

Quite often I end this section by saying that I wish I would have done something like this. Well this time I actually  have. Campaign we did couple of years back to ST1 was based on similar notion, although the loyalty card worked differently (you got immediate discount when using that card).

Tigerair has been mentioned on this blog before, but this time they really nailed it right:

Insight: People have a love & hate –relationship with loyalty cards. Pretty much everyone knows that they are bullshit and eventually increase the prices you pay. Still almost everyone falls into them and their ridiculous schemes. This campaign makes fun of that notion and recognizes the fact that eventually with budget airline you are only interested about discounts.

I just love when brands have humor to laugh at category conventions.

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You Have A Friend Request from Jesus Christ

Friend Request from Jesus Christ
I stumbled upon these ads a while back. Despite I always appreciate when organization wants to become more contemporary, these resulted only to maximum embarrathy. It feels a little bit like your father attending spring break and attempting to do Gangnam style in 2014.

I have to admit that I am not probably the best prospect for this campaign. I believe that religions in general have product problem instead of image problem. However I think John Hegarty was on to something when he stated that Roman Catholic Church is the most powerful brand in the world:

Firstly Catholic Church does not sell physical product, it sells a belief. The great brands have evolved beyond the product; Nike & Apple are almost more way of life for their loyalists than just a simple product. They have one of the most well known logos in the world (the cross), a clear mission statement (ten commandments) and own brand book (the bible). Like McDonald´s and Starbucks later on, Church recognized the importance of location. Churches are usually in the center of the city and they used to be the tallest buildings as well (before financial institutions, the religion of our age). It was also a forerunner in branded content, collaborating with the best artists of the world (Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc.). Unlike many other brands, it has also been successful in brand extension and expanded to schools, charities and health care.

Although apparently it was not Catholic Church doing these ads, the brand is the same. For every brand there is a thin line between being too stubborn to change and being too weak to change too much.

If you work with the most powerful brand in the world, would you do ads like these?

Singaporean Viral Surprise

This week Singaporean social media has been buzzing about this “viral” video:

The reaction to the video caught Singapore Tourism Board (STB) by “surpise” and they removed the video. The discussion has not stopped though.

I don’t argue that the ad is quite hideous. I actually first bumped in the video in my FB newsfeed with the caption “I can´t stop vomiting”. Overall I think there is no reason to panic about, there is three lessons for every brand to learn about this “fiasco”:

1. Best way to draw attention to video is to remove it
Removing the video was total overreaction from STB. Firstly there is no such thing as removing something from Internet. Removed content is like Arnold Schwarzenegger: it will be back. Removing something just draws attention to it. Secondly it just draws more attention to it. If STB had left the video to its YouTube page, some people would maybe have found other STB content inspired by that. Even this newly upped version has gained over 60k views, which is quite good amount for advertising content in Singapore.

2.There is more horrible things in the world than doing a one horrible ad
Unfortunately the reality is that many firms do ads like this every day and no one raises an eyebrow. STB has done quite a lot of good content as well, such as this:


Singapore Board of Tourism from Yellow Box Studios on Vimeo.

3.Parody is the highest form of flattery

You can go viral from good and bad reasons, but this is quite far cry from a real full-blown social media crisis. The real problem for brands is not that people talk negative things about them. The problem is that no one is talking about them at all. When you start getting your first negative comments that just means that enough people have seen your content. If you spark any kind of emotion, it shows that people care about the brand. Snarky blog posts and parodies are an opportunity to join the conversation. STB should have taken more lighthearted attitude to the whole hoopla and turn these parodies into their own advantage.

I think overall Singapore Tourism Board should be happy that this video has raised so much emotion and conversation. It shows that people care deeply on what kind of message Singapore conveys abroad. Also it raises hope for Singaporean advertising scene. People should raise hell more often when they see a bad ad. There is still too much mediocrity around in advertising. Hopefully this gives us more opportunities to do more good and relevant advertising.

That is not only right for the brands, it is right for the audience as well.

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