Tag Archives: marketing

Why Kanye West is the ultimate Modern Marketer?

kids see ghosts

Even the cover art is causing hype. Superflat art piece by Takashi Murakami

As I am writing this, I am listening to “Kids See Ghosts”. It is a collaborative effort by Kanye West and Kid Cudi and in its short 7 song glory one of the best albums of the year. Before that Kanye West´s G.O.O.D. Music label released Pusha-T´s Daytona, album that is even better. Kanye West also has released his own solo (not too big of a fan) and there are additional two albums (from Nas and Teyana Taylor) coming in next two weeks.

We are seeing unleash of new music quite unprecedented in music history with combination of scandalous headlines. No matter what are your views about Kanye, it is very hard to dispute his mastery in creating art and also making people talk about that art.

  1. Understand the new economy

The age of traditional record industry with physical sales is over and now it is all about streaming. Kanye West´s Ye has had 180 million streams and Kanye West ties with Eminem and Beatles as an artist with eight consecutive Bilboard Number 1s. The hype machine around the five week flurry of G.O.O.D Music has been massive and they are constantly topping streaming charts. The mechanics of being popular in streaming  are fundamentally different than in physical world. You need to get people hooked immediately.

  1. Polarizing is better than boring

Supporting Trump? Using Whitney Houston´s bathroom as a cover art? Saying “slavery is a choice?” Using naked look-a-like of your wife to promote an album?

It is hard to agree or approve some of the latest moves by Kanye, but that is besides the point. He is creating news and regardless of your views about him, it is hard to not notice. For majority brands the problem is not that people are talking negative things about you. It is that no one is talking about the brand. We live in attention economy and Kanye West is the master of attention.

  1. Always-in-beta

Starting from Life of Pablo, Kanye West has reinvented the album form. Ye-album was still being tweaked right before the last minute of record listening party. Before the new album, he teased (or trolled) the audience with song “Lift Yourself” consisting of following lyrical mastery:

Poopy-di scoop





 Whoopity-scoop, whoop-poop

Poop-diddy, whoop-scoop

Poop, poop Scoop-diddy-whoop


Whoop-diddy-scoop, poop

Internet was baffled and the song was not in the actual album. With the current timespan of pop songs and Internet full of memes and weird content, Kanye is essentially acid testing different ideas that might be genius or insane. They all contribute to this attention economy that drives streams, concert ticket sales and shares. With the five albums with set release dates, they need to also be released. Art does not live in isolation without connection to the audience. Kanye and his crew are breathing “done is better than perfect” mantra of successful start-ups.

  1. Let your team shine

As one of the most well-known artists in the planet, Kanye West did not just release his own album. He orchestrated 5 weeks of the most talked about musical releases. The sequencing of the albums was brilliant. Insanely strong Pusha-T Daytona started this music unleash. He had not released album in three years so there was lots of hype and the strong quality made it talked about. Ye-album by Kanye would have been hit in any case and in fine way it set the way for Kids See Ghosts (that is objectively listening the better album). Next we will have Nas, who naturally has strong own following and huge interest with his collaboration with Kanye. Teyana Taylor is probably the least well-known of the artists so it makes sense to end with her album as everyone has been raving about the different albums for five weeks.

Kanye lends his star aura to his protégés, but at least in Pusha-T album does not take over. Good leaders are not hogging the limelight to themselves but they use their clout to put their star team members on pedestal.

  1. Reinvent the form

Lately many new albums have been too long and too boring. Culture II by Migos was 1 h 45 minutes. While it had good songs, also plenty of fillers. All of the new G.O.O.D. Music releases are only seven songs and about 20 minutes, that is less songs than in the latest magnum opus (in length, not in quality) from Chris Brown. When competitors are doing things certain way, it might sense to go opposite route. The short and condensed form is also perfect for streaming. Sometimes constraints also help to create the best art.

There are not many artists that are not only creating popular culture, but are truly shaping it. Kanye West is one of them.

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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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Marriage of Finland´s Finest: Finlayson & Tom of Finland


Tom of Finland is one of the most internationally well-known Finnish (hence the name) artists. He has not necessarily been that celebrated in Finland despite his international influence. Maybe it is because he specialized on quite niche art form. Tom of Finland was the most influential creator of gay pornographic images. I think it awesome that traditional Finnish textile manufacturer Finlayson has collaborated with Tom of Finland Foundation to bring some manly towels and other textile products to the people:


Some bigots might oppose this collaboration. Let them. The main challenge for brands is not that they upset people, but that no one cares about them. Brands get shaky when there is backlash, but seldom the people protesting are even using the products. Great brands do not try to appeal to everyone, but have tightly defined target audience. Great marketing strategy is not about expanding too broad, but about excluding to those, who matter. In addition to the upcoming “Tom of Finland” product range, Finlayson has another strong partner with their Moomin products: another crown jewel from Finland.

Gay audien ce is a lucrative target group, so it makes perfect sense for small Finnish player like Finlayson to focus on it. Also it would be quite narrow to think that Tom of Finland appeals only to gay audience. His macho men are part of popular culture and something every Finn should be proud of. The reaction from my peer group was overtly positive for the collaboration (both straight & gay). There will be also upcoming movie about him, so there is definitely momentum for Finlayson to build on.


Unfortunately in conjunction of release of “Tom of Finland”-products, the legal committee of Finnish parliament voted against same-sex marriage. That is a disgrace to Finland and keeps the country still firmly in Stone Age when it comes to equality. Finland is the only Nordic country without gender-neutral marriage. Shame on you, my beloved home country. Hopefully Finnish parliament will come to senses this autumn when they vote about it. Judging by the idiots voted there, I would not get my hopes too high.

To support international efforts of classic Finnish company, I definitely want to buy some of these new Finlayson products. I wonder does Finlayson ship to Singapore as well? And if it does, will the bed sheets able go through the customs in here?

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Decision Paralysis in Hawker Centre

Singapore is a tremendous place for foodie. I am especially fond of the concept of Hawker centres. For those unfamiliar, they are open air food complexes serving great but inexpensive food. I try to visit new stalls and new centres every week and try out new dishes.

In the beginning, my knowledge of local dishes was fairly limited. I wanted to test out new food, but as the hawker stall can be quite hectic place especially during the lunch hour, I nearly always made similar order (prawn noodles, to be precise). So after getting worried about my diet getting too monotonous, I made a simple rule to guide my lunch decision-making:

Only buy from Hawker stalls which sell only one food item.

The reasoning was two-folded:

1. If stall can make living by only selling one dish, the dish must be pretty good.

2. When you have only one alternative, your decision process is quite straightforward.

What I experienced on the stalls offering too many alternatives, was decision paralysis. And many times I still experience that. So it is probably me blocking the queue at the stall when not able to make my mind up between Mee Siam and Mee Rebus. Sorry.

The more you give alternatives to customer, the more difficult it is to make the decision and more likely that customer sticks to his learned formula of behavior. So if you have accustomed to eat chicken rice, the more new alternatives you get the more likely you are to stick with that chicken rice.

This raises couple of issues to companies. If you have only one product, the customer selection is definitely easy. It is also easy to decide against your product. So you have to have variety to address different target audience needs. However, the more you add alternatives the more difficult the selection becomes. In FMCG this usually also results to product cannibalization. The category variants do not take market share from competitor products but actually eat up the market share of your core product. Companies have to provide variety but also easy decision at the same time. Below are couple of tips to overcome this paradox.

How you can help clients to overcome decision paralysis?

1. Recommend

How many times have you taken Chef´s Special in the restaurant? If customer seems hesitant, ask and recommend. Whether you are hawker stall owner or webstore, you are also expert of your products. Highlight that expertise and make qualified recommendation to your client.

2. Show popularity

When showing Top 5 of the most popular dishes, the probabilities are quite high that the customer selects  some of them. Or just check the most popular media sites, they are always highlighting the most read stories. Popularity is a cue of superiority and it helps to make decisions.

3. Encourage word-of-mouth

Only times when I have varied from my hawker stall selection criteria was when I had recommendation from my friend or read a story about certain stall or dish on Straits Times. There is no shortcut for positive feedback. You have to provide good experience and the word-of-mouth will follow. In digital sphere you can make recommendations more visible with social media integration (showing Facebook likes, comments, FourSquare check-ins or Twitter updates regarding your company).

4. Help customer to apply his decision making rules

“I always buy the cheapest”, “I always buy the most expensive”, “I always try the new dish” or “I always eat beef on Fridays”. These are some of the rules your customer might use when selecting products. When you highlight those different motivational triggers, you make your customers selection easier. To exactly know the motivation and the rules for your customers, it requires constant monitoring and research of customer habits.

5.  Help customer to make one choice at a time

Some of the decisions are not always easy. There might be thousands of alternatives. Or there might be only couple of alternatives, but thousands different parameters affecting your choice. Especially with more complicated products, it helps if you break the decision to different parts. It is hard to make buying decision right away, but you can always take steps closer to it. Decision making in elections is great example of this, finding the right candidate requires variety of questions affecting various different categories (example: Republican primaries 2012).

Nowadays as I have learned more about different dishes I have ventured to stalls offering more variety. But even then I utilize one simple rule:

Always go to the stalls with the longest queue.

“More choice does not necessarily correlate with more business”

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