Category Archives: Advertising

The Most Effective and Meaningful Ad of the Year is A Tweet

“Will there be people who stop buying Nike because of this?

Yes.

But there will also be others who use this as an excuse to buy another jersey or pair of sneakers. Regardless of how loud the keyboard warriors and voices opposed to Kaepernick get, Nike will remain standing at the end of it all. And as they say, no press is bad press.”

-Brian Cristiano, CEO Bold Agency

kaepernick

This single tweet is already the best AD of the year and already created $43 million in buzz for Nike.

Some argue that brands should not take a stand on controversial topics.

I beg to differ.

Brands should take public stand, when brand has actually something to contribute to the topic. If a brand actually has a stand, it is almost  Now more than ever. Majority of brands cannot actual be bold and shy away of all kinds of (even minor) controversy. Not Nike, this latest ad is just a continuum of deliberate and consistent marketing strategy that they have been following for years. Great brands know that they are not for everyone. Great brands are consistent. Great brands take risks.

Nike´s DNA is all about the athletes. Its main spokespersons (Lebron James among the few) have been vocal about the issues that prompted Kaepernick to knee down during the national anthem. Nike is known for standing by their athletes during their hard times (Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, etc.). Reflected to that, it actually would have been disappointing if Nike would not have been sponsoring Colin Kaepernick. He is a great and brave athlete, who uses the stage he has as a canvas to shed a light to social injustice and is then prevented to practice his profession. Not unlike Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968 in Olympics. Nike is taking a stand, but in a way that is true to their brand and will eventually sell much more apparel.

People (read: idiots) burning Nike shoes will not cost Nike anything (maybe they will buy new shoes afterwards) and actually gives Nike more publicity. All publicity is good publicity, because it is increasing your mental availability. Sure, this campaign will alienate some Nike buyers. Buyers, who are so stupid that they set their shoes on fire or rip their Nike socks.

Good riddance.

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Treat YouTube Bumpers like Print Ads

YouTube Marketing

Me finding something weird under my fingernails during my presentation about Video trends

Yesterday I was speaking in “Digital PR Strategies 2018”-seminar about how to build your brand one video out of time. While rambling about industrial shredders, Finnish midsummer buyers buying cucumbers and condoms, opportunities of Augmented Reality or how we have worse attention span than goldfish, I also talked about YouTube Bumpers (actually connected to our short attention span).

Those 6 second non-skippable ads have been talked about a lot in last year or so. One key drivers for more shorter video ad content is that majority of audience detest most advertising that is pushed to them. Pushed being the operating term; people are consuming content more than ever before and they are fed up with the bad intrusive advertising more than ever before. So if you take a cynical view, using short form content and branding from first second onwards is preparing to fail: “people will skip it anyway so let´s just be fast”.

The truth is naturally more nuanced and there is a role for different lengths of brand content. The important thing is to have distinct roles for the all the different video assets. It is therefore crucial to recognize what YouTube bumpers are and what they are not.

Bumpers are not for brand building or explaining complicated nuances about your product. However, they are useful tool for brand recall and enforcing your unique selling point (if you have any).

Therefore you should not think about 6 seconds as a grand storytelling tool*, but more like a print or OOH. You can communicate one strong message, one strong visual (that is naturally moving because it is video) and your brand. Nothing more, nothing less. Don´t get confused by that is video, think of it as print ad and probably your creative will become much better.

*And yes I have seen the 6 second renditions of literature classics. And they suck balls compared to original material (although some of them are quite funny). But no one in their right mind would even compare YouTube bumper to great literature novel, apples to oranges and so on. 

 

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Aperol Spritz Effect: 5 Ways to Make Your Brand Stand Out

Negroni

I am more Negroni than Aperol Spritz guy, so here I am enjoying the poison of my choice in the birthplace of the drink: Florence.

Besides the unprecedented heatwave across the world, there is method to current Aperol Spritz* madness. Recent New York Times article highlights on how Campari (owner of Aperol –brand) has been smartly devising a marketing plan and actions that have made Aperol Spritz the go-to drink of the Summer. Below are five tips on how you can make your brand stand out the same way as Aperol Spritz:

  1. Ride the trends (both big & small)

Bigger trend in US is that people are gravitating towards low-alcoholic (or even non-alcoholic) drinks. Aperol Spritz has alcohol content slightly under 10% (of course depending on your mix) that makes it less that your glass of wine but still gives you nice summer buzz.

That trend towards low-alcohol drinks is already mainstream.

For other important trend, you need to dig deeper to current cocktail culture. Americans are starting to appreciate more bitter tastes in their alcohol. That change is driven by Cocktail bars. Progressive bartenders have been using more Amaros (herbal liqueurs mostly from Italy, but recently more and more also from States) in their cocktails and shots of Fernet-Branca have almost become the secret handshake for bartenders. Elevated taste towards bitters has also increased interest to Negroni (my go-to-cocktail of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) that Campari has been capitalizing as well on smaller scale with strategic partnerships with bars.

  1. Have distinctive look and feel

The strongest asset of Aperol is the distinctive color (only rivaled by Campari from the same parent company). When person is drinking Aperol Spritz, you immediately recognize the drink. It is characteristically Aperol and it serves as cue that simplifies your selection. It also helps that you have the brand name in the drink: beer or wine can be anything but there is only one Aperol Spritz.

You cannot deny Aperol old Italian tradition. Aperol was invented already in 1919, although it became popular only after World War II. That history brings credibility to the product.

  1. Own the occasion

Campari has made deliberate push to make Aperol Spritz the drink of summer. They have partnered with popular summer hangouts and events concentrating their media push and visibility to those occasions as well. It is easier to own one season than all the seasons; one day instead of every day or create your own small moment instead of trying to carve a part of bigger moment. Campari has been successfully doing it this also with Negroni Week,  event in June, where various bars are doing their Negroni variations and part of the sales go to charity.

  1. Get the product to the people

In the previously mentioned events and hangouts Aperol spritz has also been handed for free. The biggest hurdle with any product is to get it to the hands of the consumers and sometimes it might be worthwhile investment to give the first pop for free. When your product is distinctive and instantly recognizable, the social validation of people using the product starts to spread like wildfire. You can recognize that someone is drinking Aperol Spritz compared to standard glass of wine.

  1. Make it Instagram-worthy

Not only you need to have drink that tastes nice, it also needs to look nice in your Instagram-stores. Campari has been creating different Aperol-branded swag (wine glasses, straws, umbrellas, sunglasses, orange fans) that serve as good props for social media posts and encourage you to share. Photo with you and Aperol Spritz portrays classy but care-free attitude; perfect for Instagram.

Although there is a speculation that Aperol Spritz might be the gateway to Campari Spritz, I don´t see the current popularity of Aperol Spritz as a fad. It is build on solid product with rich history, understanding of the trends affecting category and smart focused marketing campaign.

*And for those who don´t know, Aperol Spritz is a drink with aperol, sparkling wine and dash of soda.

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I Am In SXSW

Hello all,

I just arrived to Austin yesterday and will be here for a week as part of wonderful delegation from JWT & Mirum Asia-Pacific:

groupphoto

Our group in SXSW 

We will be sharing content every day from the interesting talks in our blogs:

https://jwtsxsw.tumblr.com/

and

https://sxswapac.tumblr.com/

Despite having had relatively rough start in Austin due to jet lag and cramping leg after cruel flight, I had full day of talks already today.  You can read some of my observations in our blog:

Why Living in Singapore Makes You Perfectly Prepared for SXSW?

How I Found The Happiness in SXSW 2018

If anyone reading this blog is in Austin, hit me up on different social media channels.

It would be great to meet.

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Programmatic Advertising should be Slave to The Brand and Performance

“Programmatic is gluten of advertising”

-Jimmy Kimmel

I was speaking couple of weeks back at Marketing Interactive Performance Marketing Confence. It was a really great event and I was happy that I was able to speak from creative angle which quite often gets neglected in programmatic discussion.

Marketing-Interactive Digital Performance Marketing 2017

Marketing-Interactive Digital Performance Marketing 2017

I talked about the state of programmatic, but as in this post I want to highlight three things from the speech that every brand should take into account:

  1. Creativity has to become more ingrained to programmatic advertising.

Creative variables constitute over 50% of programmatic effectiveness, but do you focus 50% of your programmatic efforts to the quality of creative? Over half of the marketing budget is at stake and still many brands are cutting corners when doing creatives to programmatic. Horrible quality will lead to bad performance and will also contribute to ad-blocking (which has exploded in Asia) When same ad reaches person over 40 times a month, sales can actually start to decline.

Also sometimes it seems that programmatic specialists have totally forgotten the importance of strong brand. You can optimize as much as you want, but if people do not recognize and know your brand that tactical tweaking amounts to nothing. Marketing automation will not replace the value of strong brand. And strong brands are built from great user experience and emotional connection.

  1. Programmatic quality will be the utmost importance.

10.9 billion will be wasted on low-quality display ads by 2021. That is over 1/3 of programmatic spend. Above-mentioned creative quality is important element in the quality, but there has been even more fundamental problems within programmatic industry:

  • Viewability (or lack thereof)
  • Ad and click fraud
  • Bots
  • And the poor creative quality (mainly horrible quality and invasive display ads have driven people to block all advertising

Many have been benefiting from ad fraud, whether they have been publishers, buyers and media agencies. Hell, even extremists have done 318K from brands with ads placed to their extreme content. Who have not benefited at all from ad fraud?

Brands and their consumers.

Within the next decade, fake Internet traffic schemes will become the second-largest market for criminal organizations behind cocaine and opiate trafficking. Media (and other) agencies would likely not push dope (maybe consume it) or kill people but they have been happily working indirectly with same criminal organizations.

Industry has to clean its act.

Luckily the quality has become a conversation topic and brands start to realize that if your placement is too cheap it is probably too good to be true. Industry giants are improving as well. Programmatic direct deals in APAC have grown more than 65%. It is everyone´s responsibility to demand and offer quality placements.

  1. Programmatic is not just display advertising

I think it’s a dying industry. The idea that buying a 250 x 250 square display ad is effective, is false, you’re more likely to get bitten by a shark than click on one of those ad units.

– Matthew Oczkowski (Cambridge Analytica) 

Display ads will not be remembered as the best advertising innovations in the world (unlike TV ads and search advertising). 60% of banner clicks are accidental and 90% of them are bots. You don´t need to be mathematician to realize that it is really small percentage of people who are really clicking. And the percentage is not really going up. The world´s first banner ad had 44% CTR and now we have gone to fraction of that (0.16% globally)

However, some are still clicking and they are still bringing results. Display ads are necessary transition for companies to drive performance and learn to operate programmatically.

Programmatic marketing is about machines buying, serving and optimizing advertising (any kind of advertising). Eventually majority of buying will be programmatic, because machines are doing it better than we are. There is probably certain iconic placements that will never become programmatically bought or sold, but they will be small minority. For anything else machines will do it more effectively, accurately and faster. This applies also to actual creatives. If robots can already beat people at GO, conduct entire orchestra or write articles, it would not be the biggest of challenge to create above-the-average display ads. And if you are worried about machines stealing your job, read below quote from this great and acclaimed thinker:

”If machines can do the job, it´s not really a job you want to do”

– Riku Vassinen

Programmatic is still unfortunately in stage of not having unified definitions. When having discussion with different stakeholders of programmatic, it feels like the old parable of blind men touching elephant from different angle. Your view of elephant is totally different based on are you touching its nose or backside. Same thing with programmatic. Some are talking about buying, some about tools, some just about display advertising, some about multiple creative variations etc.

We need to strip away the unnecessary “magic dust” surrounding programmatic and agree on basic definitions. Unfortunately, it has been tainted by snake oil salesmen, who actually benefit of having people confused about what programmatic truly means. They have been benefitting on making it more complicated and less transparent than it should be.

Because at its core, programmatic is a great thing. It is about reaching right audience with right creative on right context and with right price. So essentially it is what advertising has always been. Now we are just able to do it with more precision.

Programmatic advertising is not means to the end. It should always serve as slave that helps to drive stronger brand and better performance.

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Video Killed The Digital Star: 6 Key Online Video Trends

Last Monday I was speaking about the latest Video marketing trends. Visual storytelling will be more and more important and naturally video is the most important way to tell visual stories. Video is growing rapidly and currently there does not seem to anything stopping this rapid growth:

  1. Video just keeps growing

We are living in visual age. Picture tells more than thousand words and video tells more than thousand pictures. In next three years video will account 79% of all Internet traffic. Businesses are expected to spend nearly $13 billion on video marketing in 2018. Lots of the discussions about video is focused on entertainment, but we tend to forget that YouTube is the world´s second largest search engine. 75% of consumers believe that a video describing a service is important and 25% will lose interest if your company is not explaining through video.

  1. Catching the attention is more difficult than ever

1/3 of of all YouTube videos have less than 10 views. That is quite pathetic and showcases the wide gap between hits and misses. Within top 10 most watched videos in 2016, there was only one ad (Nike The Switch). Of all the top 10 most watched ads, half were actually Superbowl ads. You are not only competing with other brands, you are competing of the time of your audience.

  1. It is not mobile-first, it is mobile-only

Mobile video is growing 25%, whereas desktop video consumption is declining for the first time ever. People are already consuming video 36 minutes on their mobile devices compared to 18.5 minutes on non-mobile devices. This mobile shift will affect your video production: Have you thought about vertical videos?

  1. Consumers are craving for instant gratification

Unfortunately average human attention span has fallen below the one of goldfish, so not surprisingly 75% of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds. YouTube is aggressively pushing their 6 second videos, which is enough time to tell even world´s greatest stories (below is Hamlet):

  1. Video platforms are eying for the prime time

YouTube are evolving from dubious quality user-generated snackable content to full-blown entertainment powerhouses. YouTube has couple of interesting offerings: YouTubeTV (cable-free LiveTV) and YouTube Red (ad-free offering focused on music and content creators). Facebook has not exactly resting on its laurels and Facebook Watch provides original video shows.

  1. Video is getting more interactive and immersive

This quarter there were over 2 million VR devices shipped (ranging from no-frill Google Cartboard to top-tier Oculus Rift), but VR has not yet hit mainstream. It currently works well with events and gaming, but we have not yet seen the killer app (or device) that would break VR to become a household name.

Augmented reality is already more mainstream (with Pokemon Go last year and popularity of face filters in Snapchat and Instagram). New Apple ARkit will just keep on making Augmented reality more popular.

Based on the calculations by Credit Suisse, VR/AR market could become as big as the current smartphone market:

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 4.01.47 pm

Source: Credit Suisse

So in the future, you do not only need to consider what is your content angle with your video. You have to also consider the depth of interactivity and immersion you want to obtain.

In many ways digital marketing is becoming more simple. It is all about two things: performance and content creation. The latter is all about video creation and to succeed in the market place, you have to be master of video production as well.

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The MAYA Principle: The Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable

“Making the strange familiar and making the familiar strange, again”

– David Foster Wallace (about realistic novels)

Reading the book “Hit Makers” reminded me about Raymond Loewy´s MAYA –principle. Raymond Loewy was one of the most iconic industrial designers of the last century. Among his works are Lucky Strike package (logo on both sides to maximize the visibility), Coke vending machines, Air Force One livery and Skylab space station (with window to look back to Earth) to name a few. MAYA-principle means:

“The Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable”

To sell something familiar, make it surprising. To sell something surprising, make it familiar. This is one of the most important things to understand about human beings. The battle between familiarity and discovery shapes our whole lives. We want to feel safe, but at the same time we enjoy the thrill of challenge. The conflicting forces of safety and excitement explains why we resonate and like things that are familiar enough but also have something new in them. Loewy´s theory (which worked in practice) was also later proved in academic research.

Humans don´t want the same old thing all over again, but they also don´t want totally new thing. They want the same thing with slight twist. That is why Spotify´s weekly playlist works so well, it exposes you to new music but at the same time plays songs you are already familiar with. “Let It Be”, “Don´t Stop Believin”, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “No Woman, No Cry” are built on the same chord progression. However, it would be ludicrous to say that these songs sound the same. There is lot of innovation in these songs, but it is innovation with boundaries. Innovation is not about thinking outside the box, it is about rethinking the box.

The secret to create things that resonate with popular audience is to embrace the conflict in the humans. It is not choice between neophilia (curiosity about new things) and neophobia (fear of anything too new), it is about finding the balance. This dualism is crucial in our industry as we quite often fall into the trap of going after whatever is new and shiny. Or we are too lazy and just do something that has been done before without adding any of the magic. Both are equally bad approaches to talk to the masses (which is the main goal for advertising). You have to find the balance between typicality and novelty.

The secret to popularity is to add slight hint of danger but still maintain the feeling of safety in your audience.

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No Moment too Early for Machine-created Creatives

Good copy stops you to read. Bad copy as well (so in that way mediocrity is something you should avoid):

I like to read paper newspaper as it keeps me in touch of the current decline of print advertising (not to mention Straits Times gives interesting viewpoint to the society, mostly by what it omits to tell). This ad is a good example on why we should already move to machine-generated creatives for majority of advertisers.

Of course AI will eventually be able to do even better, more touching and innovative creatives than we do at the moment. Meanwhile we should at least try to differentiate a little, show what humans are better: emotions, insight, feelings. If we cannot add even a little bit of magic to whatever we do, AI will overcome us faster than we have predicted.

 

 

 

 

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Supermarket Champagne and How Quick Win is Not Always Beneficial for Your Brand

For a person coming from Finland where you only can buy wines from government-run monopoly even seeing wines in supermarket is somewhat mind-boggling. However where I advocate liberal policies, being too accessible might not be that wise strategy if you want to be regarded as premium luxury brand.

In the case of G.H. Mumm the genie is out of the bottle (no pun intented) and it has definitely positioned itself as a mainstream champagne. However even for supermarket champagne this promotion is just plain ridiculous:

gh_mumm

Taking picture of receipts?

Sending messages to dubious WhatsApp numbers?

How low will your brand go?

To me if you want to be perceived luxury you should not even be having promotions or discounts. But even if having promotion you could create a better and more luxurious experience, maybe a nice landing page or if you want to use messenger apps: a chatbot.

Brands are after quick wins and forget that those actions will deteriorate the brand on the long run.

(Some smartass might ask why I bought the bottle in the first place, which is a valid question. In this case, the wacky promotion did not stop me from buying the product (but it was close). I just ignored the promotion) 

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Technics SL-1200: A Story of a Brand Who Deliberately Wants to Lose Its Street Credibility

dj

Me and my SL-1210 ca.2004

I own four turntables: one set back in (OG) home in Finland and one set here in Singapore (naturally as old DJ, I count turntables in pairs). All of these turntables are Technics SL-1200. In 2010 the production for these DJ workhorses ceased, but because of the current vinyl revival Panasonic has started to manufacture them again.

Only catch: they will cost about $2800 (about four times the previous retail price of Technics Sl-1200. To put it in perspective, I have used about $1500 for all my four turntables. I have nothing against companies trying to make more money, but the bigger problem I have with them is how they are alienating the group that made them famous to begin with:

“Our concept is analog records for hi-fi listening. D.J.s are fine, too, but as a marketing target it’s problematic. We don’t want to sell the 1200 as the best tool for D.J.ing. The 1200 is the 1200.”

-Hiro Morishita, Creative Director at Technics

Because of the DJ´s, sl-1200 has become one of the most well-known turntables in the world.  Now they are essentially disowning that group and trying to attract old and wealthy audiophiles. They have German classical pianist Alice Sara Ott as their global brand ambassador. They used to sponsor DJ championships before.

I have nothing personally against Alice, but I have seldom seen brands so totally disowning their heritage. Also it seems counterintuitive that when brands are struggling to target millennials and younger audience you have a company that has a great opportunity with that tricky target audience and totally neglecting to take advantage of it.

Vinyl sales are growing among millennials, hip-hop is worldwide phenomenon and DJs are biggest music superstars. You have a product that is naturally ingrained to all these trends. Many brands don´t have street credibility and try to borrow it. Technics Sl-1200 would need to borrow it, but instead they have pivoted to weird direction.

Not to mention, they don´t also have credibility in audiophile audience.

Technics SL-1200 has never been known for being the best hi-fi turntable and with their current price tag you can get turntables with better sound quality. The cultural cache that Technics Sl-1200 has does not really expand to hi-fi enthusiasts. If you are listening to Alice Sara Ott, you don´t really care who is Grandmaster Flash or that he used to use exact same turntable. Only people I know that have modified tonearm or power supply in SL-1200 (well-known not particularly good sound quality items in Technics Sl-1200) are old DJ´s. Would not seem that of a stretch for them to acknowledge the DJ heritage but do an improved version for the nostalgic old DJ´s and the DJ-minded audience. I would assume the sales would be better than with the new version.

I am loyal to my Technics Sl-1200 as long as I listen to vinyl, but I would never buy the new SL-1200G. Luckily the thing why DJ´s loved these turntables are that they are almost unbreakable so I don´t really need to acquire new ones.

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