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Posts Tagged ‘Brand Republic’

The tablet to end all tablets: iPad’s product journey

As with lots of much-hyped products, the incredible furore that built before the iPad’s release quickly dissipated into overt wretching and other disgusting complaining noises, not helped by the connectivity problems some users are experiencing. Cooler heads seem to be prevailing a little over a week after the US release, and Brand Republic have a very interesting, celebratory yet sober article on what the iPad will mean for both consumer and ad man. Our Ogilvy colleagues over in Asia have more.

Tiger burns bright in new Nike spot

Nike’s new spot for Tiger Woods, ahead of his return back to the greens and fairways later today, is an interesting one. It features a monochrome vision of Tiger as he looks into the camera, while in a voiceover his late father questions what the future will bring for him, now the skeletons are out of the proverbial closet. Zeitgeist reported on Tiger’s indiscretions before, and while brands like Accenture have sought to distance themselves, Nike have stood firm. Brand Republic has more. At what point do we distinguish between the athlete or performer, and their personal life? What do you think of the new ad?

BA – Striking the right note for consumers

Having recently revamped their first class cabin with much hoopla and with an always-scintillating Rachel Weisz, British Airways might have felt quite chuffed with themselves. A lot of people, however, were left quite upset in the run up to Easter as they were left holiday-less due to the strikes by BA staff. Part of Zeitgeist was abroad, though “luckily” they were travelling with EasyJet. BA stood to lose some even more ground to it’s low-cost rivals, and when the strike was announced earlier in the year, carrier BMI did not miss a beat in its print ads. National Express also sought to capitalise on the affair. To add salt to the wound, a software developer at BA recently tried to organise a series of suicide bombings to take place during the strike.

It became clear early on though that public sympathy was, for the most part, with British Airways. This could be because the airline have had to endure strikes before, or because the flagbearer is seen as one of the last vestiges of a bygone era of empire and erudite financial control; something to be proud of. BA seized on this and decided to engage in a bit of ex-ante damage control. It should be noted that the company are somewhat digital-savvy, as evidenced by their Metrotwin which began with things to do and see in London and NYC in 2008, and which at the end of last year added Mumbai too. However they have in the past failed to correctly judge the mood of the masses, such as when they replaced the Union Jack on their fleet’s tailfins with ‘world art’.

Brand Republic reported on March 2nd that BA had asked Agency.com “to create a social-media strategy aimed at providing customers with the latest information on services should the industrial action go ahead”. They also launched a paid search campaign on Google and Yahoo! to keep travellers updated. On March 15th they launched a viral campaign featuring a YouTube video of BA’s CEO Willie Walsh, criticising the strike and “reassuring customers that flights will continue”. Separately, Lord Adonis, the transport minister “waded into the row… telling the BBC he ‘absolutely’ deplored the strike”.

On March 19th, BA launched a print campaign “to emphasise its efforts to minimise disruption to customers during the forthcoming strike”. In it, Walsh states the airline will “keep [its] flag flying”. Walsh continued to appear in a series of videos as the strike got underway, reassuring travellers that the atmosphere at Terminal 5 was “very positive” and that “very good numbers” of cabin crew were coming to work, as well as answering media criticism. A survey of 1000 people revealed on March 23rd, “the majority of those who had seen BA’s campaign have either retained or improved their perception of the brand.” On March 31st, the day after the strike ended, BA ran a print ad campaign in most of the nationals thanking “thousands of customers” for their support.

Though not flawless, the exercise was unquestionably a successful one, and stands as an example for future brands in times of crisis: don’t ignore the issue, address the consumer quickly and directly, do everything you can to get through it. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Brand ambassador fail – The end of a fruitful relationship

Reputations can be hard to maintain online. Habitat learnt this the hard way last summer when it inexplicably started tweeting about their various furnishings along with the hashtag for the protests in Iran. To say that people were not amused is an understatement.

The “It” girl (if “It” referred to “don’t touch it, even with an extremely long pole”) Peaches Geldof was today fired by lingerie retailer Miss Ultimo, who have her featured in their current campaign. The reason for this abrupt contract termination stems from a recent night of pleasure she undertook with one Ben Mills, who thought it best to document the scene (NSFW). Brand Republic reports a spokeswoman as saying, “Miss Ultimo is a brand geared towards a young female audience and, as a company, we have a social responsibility to ensure we are promoting only positive role models that young women can aspire to.”

Quite what they were thinking would happen when hiring someone of Peaches’ sybaritic tendencies is anyone’s guess. The insight is that brands need to think about their ambassador not just in terms of how much coverage and awareness to the brand they will bring, but about what form that will take. It sounds simple, however in this instance it clearly was not fully thought out. Zeitgeist suggests tennis star Daniela Hantuchova next time.

Surf’s up: Toward shopper marketing integration

March 29, 2010 1 comment

Forrester estimates that $249b will be spent on online retail in 2014 in the US of A. (Great until you consider what Roland Emmerich estimates will happen in 2012.) When we think of people shopping online, our tendency might be to think of a housewife at home, at her desktop computer, slightly less bewildered than perhaps the average housewife would have been five years ago, clicking away at Tesco or Amazon. However, as a brand’s presence online is effectively communicated and merged with in-store comms, people are increasingly shopping online while in-store, as typified by last year’s notorious Dixons campaign.

As eConsultancy reports, while previously there may have been a fluid, predictable path to purchase, since the arrival of the Internet things have changed. “People research online and buy offline. They research offline and then buy online. And in both cases the brands and retailers are likely to vary. And in both cases satisfaction with the experience impacts repeat purhcase likelihood across all channels.” The risk is that someone might use the bricks-and-mortar store as a mere window, an experiential exhibition to test and get a feel of the products before buying them online. This is exactly what the article goes on to detail, albeit anecdotally. It calls the situation “apocalyptically galling” for offline retailers. Some high-street stores are responding. HMV for example has POS comms suggesting people buy the product just as easily from their website (a precarious strategy as somone might defer their purchase while in-store and for one of many reasons not go through with the online purchase). These online alternatives will be judged against the John Lewis et al. of the world by cost, convenience and service. Many will not be able to tick all three boxes.

More recently, eConsultancy wrote about the recent publication of a survey entitled “Respect the Shopper: Harmonizing the Cross-Channel Experience”. The survey revealed,

•    88% said they had shopped that retailer’s web site
•    75% said visiting the brand’s web site helps them to shop in-store
•    85% compared prices online
•    44% visited a competitor’s web site
•    26% will visit the retailer’s web site to continue shopping after leaving the store

This level of integration bodes well for promotional activity and awareness opportunities. However it also leaves the shopper open to exposure to competitive retailers while in-store, instantly. One way to combat this challenge will be to make the shopping experience – from specific promotions to the retail environment – more personal and engaging, to create some sort of an affinity for the store they are in and the brand as a whole, taking away the relatively bespoke nature of the online environment.

Media shakes and quakes

A quick round-up of some interesting news in the media world in the past 24 hours or so…

The scope of the BBC is to be drastically reduced. The TelecomPaper writes that the plans are to “reign in its website, close down two radio stations, cut management costs and focus spending more on quality, local programming.” News organisations have been complaining for some time that the BBC News website is taking traffic away from dedicated news publication sites, and in general this news will be music to the ears of James Murdoch, whose Sky continues to see ebullient profits.

Viacom and the US TV streaming service Hulu are parting ways, meaning hilarity such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart will no longer be available on the site. The WSJ reported that they reached a “financial impasse”. Meanwhile,  Hulu has launched its own show.

Apple is currently making the rounds of movie studios after paying a similar visit to the music labels in discussions to be able to provide users with their media in the cloud. The upshot is that users would be able to access their iTunes products from anywhere at anytime on their mobile devices. Zeitgeist looks forward to seeing this in action.

Lastly, if you’re planning to watch the Academy Awards this Sunday night at home on television, you’ll be in the same position as one of the producers whose film has been nominated for Best Picture and is seen as a front-runner. On the last day to send out one’s vote for the Oscar ballot, Nicolas Chartier wrote an email asking for his friends to vote for “Hurt Locker” rather than a certain “$500 million film”. The Academy have responded by banning Mr. Chartier from attending Sunday’s ceremony. The LA Times reports, “Should the film win best picture, Chartier would be given his Oscar at a later date”. The insight is that backstabbing isn’t kosher, even in Hollywood.

UPDATE: Very interesting post from TechCrunch on the Hulu / Viacom split; “The economic incentive is too great for media properties to centralize their videos on their own sites. But to consumers, this recentralization looks more like fragmentation”.

Shut that Window – On platform release dates for movies

February 17, 2010 4 comments

Speaking of Disney, the film wing is in the news today for its proposals to release Tim Burton’s 3D extravaganza “Alice in Wonderland” early on DVD, i.e. in less than four month’s after its theatrical release, a date reached by gentlemen’s agreement betwixt studio and exhibitor. In return, major exhibitors are planning to boycott the release of the film unless Disney backs down. Zeitgeist has reported on the narrowing of release windows and its implications before. Variety, and the following day the FT, have more.

UPDATE: In related news, Ridley Scott Associates are planning with Philips to premiere select films online. The tide is definitely turning toward a time when a film is released simultaneously on multiple platforms.

UPDATE: Odeon cinemas will not be showing “Alice in Wonderland”, according to the BBC.

UPDATE: Odeon cinemas WILL be showing “Alice in Wonderland”, according to the BBC.

Chanel to launch e-commerce site

February 16, 2010 1 comment

In the wake of New York Fashion Week, Mashable ran an interesting article on the fashion industry’s relationship with social media. Today, Chanel, not content with their formidable iPhone app, which puts it’s competitors’ apps such as Gucci and Dior to shame, confirmed they will be offering some of their products online.

Chanel sells amongst the most expensive ready-to-wear collections of any luxury label, with a beautiful raincoat for example costing well over £4,000. Other brands, such as Giorgio Armani and Yves Saint Laurent, already offer e-commerce functionality, it just remains to be seen whether Coco’s company can do something special with it. With e-tailers Luisaviaroma.com and Yoox.com already well-established, it will be interesting to see if online shoppers balk at the high markups that might seem more justified in the retail environment of the brand’s flagship store on Avenue Montaigne, especially in a recession. Brand Republic has more.

Walled Gardens

February 1, 2010 3 comments

Prison Break

At the end of the 18th century, the Maharajas were rulers only in name. The British showered them with jewels and Western trappings (like Vuitton tea sets). Grand palaces were created for them, which in effect were nothing but beautiful prisons. Is today’s ultimate trapping – the Internet and its peripheries – any less of a beautiful prison?

A recent FT editorial details the evolution of Apple. 1977 saw the debut of the Apple II; “owners were confronted with a cryptic blinking cursor, awaiting instructions” writes Jonathan Zittrain.  The computer was a blank canvas for the user to do with as they wish. Apple’s iPhone, Zittrain contests, is the antithesis, positing that the incredibly popular App Store was introduced only grudgingly. The chief fault with the App Store is the approval process, which eighteen months later remains byzantine and ad hoc. Zittrain rightly points out that the process excludes many harmful or offensive apps. There is, however, seemingly no specific criterion upon which apps are dismissed. To judge a piece of software on its inherent use as a service or product before it has been allowed to develop can lead to stifling of innovation. Zittrain notes “How worthy of approval would Wikipedia have seemed when it boasted only seven articles – dubiously hoping that the public would magically provide the rest?”

This argument casts Zeitgeist’s mind back to uni days spent studying technological determinism vs. social constructivism. As Ian McLoughlin explains, “The final form a technology does not, therefore, reflect its technical superiority, but rather the social processes which establish consensus around the belief that it is superior”. The Internet, originally a way for the US military to send emails, has grown inestimably beyond anything initially anticipated. Google, believing that an open-source platform will lead to innovation and advantages that they could never have thought of by themselves, have done just that with Android. Open access encourages collaboration, and always produces a more accurate solution than a smaller, more highly-qualified group. The Internet has already moved on once from the so-called “walled garden” era – when ISPs like CompuServe and AOL created their own, proprietary internets with approved material – we should not return to it.

Furthermore, a victim of its own success, the capacity of the Internet is straining under the sheer weight of data it handles. The Net Neutrality policy has been around for years but recently gained headway, finding a supporter in President Obama. There is increasing pressure on ISPs to provide preferential services (i.e. more bandwith) to certain companies, bodies or organisations who deem themselves to need it more (and who can afford to pay more for it). The upshot is a situation where certain information, or views, are more readily accessibly and available than others, “where consumers are at the mercy of the dealmaking prowess of operators and networks”. The proposed acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast has raised concern for some, especially given Comcast’s recent history. The prioritising of messages based on financial favouritism is a slippery slope, and those small and large (such as WPP) may find themselves adversely affected.

UPDATE: Australia is currently in the throes of its own net neutrality debate, according to BBC News.

TV Evolves Before Our Eyes

October 3, 2009 1 comment

From the October Zeitgeist…

TV Evolves Before Our Eyes

As Octavius once said of the Roman Empire, so now says the TV industry and the advertising that supports it: we expand or we die.

In the US, the once niche and piffling cable networks now command a much larger slice of the advertising pie, and in terms of quality, their output speaks volumes; Mad Men, The Sopranos, Sex and the City and Dexter; these same shows are rewarded at the annual gush‐fest that is the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. In the UK, the BBC is defending attacks on its unique position in the marketplace as a Public Service Broadcaster. It’s licence fee revenues mean it is moving relatively easily through the recession compared to its moribund rivals. ITV is desperately trying to find someone crazy/stupid enough to take control of the network and Channel 4 is angling for a slice of the BBC’s licence fee to help support it’s own PSB commitments. Sky meanwhile, under the stewardship of heir apparent James Murdoch, is resilient. It is having little trouble courting advertisers as the little personal liquidity that exists is sunk into home comforts like HDTV.

The crowded and volatile marketplace in both countries has led to audience fragmentation, but some are convinced there is not yet saturation. Variety wrote recently about the US push to broadcast TV to devices over ad‐supported mobile DTV; creating a “world where travelers waiting in an airport lounge will watch golf live on their laptops, or homemakers who have to dash out… won’t miss the last 10 minutes of Oprah because they can catch the end… on their cell phones”. 70 TV stations will soon be making their broadcasts available to the country’s 270m mobiles, providing another way for advertisers to create more impressions and reach more eyeballs.

Last month, Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw announced the end to the ban of product placement on commercial TV. The ban was somewhat arbitrary since imported US and Euro shows flagrantly display their wares already. The FT believes benefits to broadcasters are “hazy…a lot of the [money] would simply be transfers from traditional spot advertising”; they also might be tightly regulated, discouraging use. Advertisers though are really more fearful of no one watching their product. DVR penetration continues: most people tend to fast‐forward the ads. US networks are now trying to blur the lines even more between entertainment and advert; American Idol now inserts auditions in the middle of ad breaks.

All this risks putting off the consumer, but Brand Republic notes that viewers think product placement will “add a sense of realism” to fictional fare. If done sensibly, that is.