As we celebrate our first anniversary and approach our 150th post, please join us in celebrating our 30,000th hit.
We’ve written on the changing face of masculinity, and how men shop in the second decade of the 21st century. We examined why England lost it’s World Cup bid, and what the World Cup meant for the world as a whole, and the businesses that aim to profit from it.
We talked about the future of content; what it means to own something that only exists as a file on a computer, but you still have to pay for, as bookshops and videostores fade to dust and intellectual property rights evolve along an uncertain path.
We’ve ruminated on leadership, on how luxury justifies itself post-recession, and how antique brands like Louis Vuitton attempt to keep themselves fresh, as well as ultra-premium.
We’ve talked about how movie studios win by marketing their product, and how auction houses lost out to the pitfalls of behavioural economics.
We’ve debriefed you on our visit to the UK’s Google HQ, while waxing lyrical on Nintendo as it moves from taking on Sega to taking on Apple. We’ve asked what it means for the future of TV when everyone has Sky+ and a broadband connection. And we’ve looked at several examples of superb brand activation.
Stick around and have a browse, we’re not going anywhere.
The lessons marketers can learn from Englands World Cup bid.
One of the things Zeitgeist likes to do when not identifying first class insights is finding inspiration in the real world that can be brought into the world of marketing.
Sometimes it is as simple as this deconstruction of the Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter that demonstrates how a fantastic creative execution is made during the fusion and collaboration of individual genius contributing their own part to the mix.
However over the past week one half of Zeitgeist has been lucky enough to be given an insight of their own into the pitch process.
Last week I was lucky enough to attend the excellent APG Battle of Big Thinking which pitted planners from around the industry against each other as they debated their big thoughts.
In the semi-informal atmosphere of the architecturally interesting British Library the style and charisma of the presenters was often more influential that their actual idea.
It is rare to be able to watch another team pitch and in the much more serious arena of the Messe Zurich it provided a few more lessons that we can bring into our own business.
The most important of which is to understand the criteria against which you will be judged. This isn’t always as simple as looking at the brief. You have to understand what your audience really want and why you are there.
However a quick look at previous World Cup hosts suggests that much of that is irrelevant and what FIFA want is to enter new markets and leave a legacy.
Up to 1990 the World Cup was alternatively hosted between South and Central America and Europe. In the 90’s with the break up of the Eastern Bloc and growth of technology like the internet and mass broadcasting the world and the world of football changed dramatically.
Then in 1996, FIFA awarded the 2002 World Cup to Japan and South Korea for what was the first Asian World Cup.
In 2014 it will be held in Brazil, the nation that puts the ‘B’ into ‘BRIC’. They haven’t hosted it since 1950 and it will be the first time the event has been hosted in South America since Argentina invited the world to sample the delights of a military dictatorship in 1978.
So with this knowledge at hand the question arises as to whether England really thought they stood a chance of winning the 2018 bid. All the attributes that would have made them a stand out candidate as hosts before 2000 now count against them. The irony is that before then, the Taylor Report had only just forced clubs to upgrade their dilapidated facilities so they wouldn’t have been ideal candidates for earlier World Cups either.
The pitch itself was excellent.
If FIFA president Sepp Blatter was a balloon he’d have popped as he introduced the future King, current Prime Minister and icon David Beckham to plead with him and his mates for the right to host the World Cup.
Opened by the excellent Eddy Afekafe the presentation answered exactly what England would have wanted to see if they were choosing the venue.
Unfortunately FIFA’s criteria was different and that’s why the bid failed.
So what other lessons can we learn that will help us when we pitch to prospective clients?
It doesn’t matter how well you present if you don’t tick their requirements.
It doesn’t matter who pitches if you don’t meet their requirements.
It doesn’t matter how in love you are with your own solution if it doesn’t meet their requirements.
For all the claims of corruption and a stitch up, England were fighting a losing battle from the beginning. In any case, the idea that good Olde English values of fair play would somehow infect an international cabal of sports administrators when national and personal fortunes are waiting to be made does seem naive to say the least.
With the newly branded St George’s Park finally getting the go-ahead after years of delay it looks as though we might finally be investing in training a team of World Cup winners rather than trying to get home advantage. Maybe our efforts should have been spent getting it finished sooner instead of chasing impossible dreams.
And that’s the fifth and final lesson for agencies. Next time you get the chance to pitch, stop and think about whether you actually really stand a chance.
Does this company always appoint local or global agencies? Is the pitch just an excuse to justify giving it to the incumbant? What is your role in the process? Are they just after some new ideas? Who is actually making the decision?
Be brutally honest. If you don’t think you stand a chance, work out how much you would have wasted pitching and instead invest it in developing your own staff and boosting their morale. They already believe in you and will service your existing accounts all the better for it.
The remix and mashup are emblematic of the pluralistic society we live in today. Renowned professor Lawrence Lessig would have it no other way, as he points out in his book, ‘Remix’. Every time a company lays itself on the line by broadcasting its intellectual property, it submits itself to reinterpretation by a society who through the use of cheap, simple technology, can easily reinterpret the original content, and under claims of educational or critical purposes, the new content is legal under terms of fair use. The above, reworked Nike ad is was a great example, but has since been taken down due to claims of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement. An Oriental homage of Nike’s “Write the Future” can be seen above.
Yesterday’s insightful op-ed in the FT (which mentions the great Lessig), calls the implementation of the current 95-year copyright limit “a terrible strategic blunder”, advocating instead for shorter but better regulated terms. Over-protective IPR stifles innovation, and is unnecessary since “most holders of copyright gain all the money from a work they will ever do within five or 10 years and the rest of the term is like a one-in-a-million lottery ticket for the rare artist such as J.K. Rowling”.
LV may have been around since 1854, but, as the saying goes, you’re only as good as your last picture. Just as many an actor has been condemned to Hollywood purgatory through making one poor choice, so it is with a brand. A brand’s equity is made or broken by its perception, i.e. what it’s done lately. Ogilvy’s own Louis Vuitton has been in the press a lot recently, for reasons both good and bad. Zeitgeist takes a look at Vuitton’s goings on, and what impact the machinations will have on it’s brand.
The last Friday of May heralded the reopening of London’s New Bond St. Louis Vuitton boutique, with the new moniker of ‘Maison’, presumably denoting it as a flagship store. Never one to miss a way to include Facebook, Vuitton recorded the event in a live stream over the social network, beaming around the world images of the oh-so tiring Alexa Chung as she hosted the broadcast. The brand has done this previously to great success for it’s Ready-to-wear collections from various shows, which inspire great community interaction. Concurrent with this was the launch of a brand presence on Foursquare, one of the first of any brand to have an account on the location-based social network. (Indeed, this democratisation of fashion could be an article in of itself; Ermenegildo Zegna are taking a leaf from Vuitton’s book with unprecedented access to what goes on in the runup to a runway show). Photos of designer Marc Jacobs, Gwyneth Paltrow et al. graced the front pages of several of the city’s dailies the next morning. Diagnosis: Very good
At the opening, in a separate story that appeared with very little fanfare on the Vogue website, a brief interview was conducted with Vuitton’s creative director Marc Jacobs, who said that when he began working on the brand, his initial thoughts might have taken it in a completely different direction, “When I arrived at Louis Vuitton 12 years ago, and I was figuring out how to create a new tier of Vuitton for a different customer, I thought it would be clever to hide that monogram, which was very stupid of me. That logo is part of what makes Vuitton so desirable. It allows people to become members of an aspirational club.” Zeitgeist has never heard Jacobs utter such an admission prior to this; it is surely an incredibly controversial thought. The problem is that the designer may have been quite right to have thought of removing the logo. Without it, they are almost certainly missing out on what he refers to as a “new tier”; the customer that loves the quality and craftmanship of Vuitton but does not need the validation of having “LV” emblazoned on every product, so instead chooses to shop at Bottega Veneta or somewhere similar. For how long can a brand remain aspirational when it begins to be seen everywhere, including in all the wrong types of places? Zeitgeist recently spotted two pieces of genuine Vuitton luggage sitting in the window of a McDonald’s. Diagnosis: Not good
Elsewhere in Vuitton’s world, the Advertising Standards Authority recently upheld three complaints on a series of advertisements that Ogilvy Paris had concocted, which had received positive press from the FT at its inception, and to which Zeitgeist has referred to previously. The ads, though beautifully photographed in an homage to that brilliant artist Vermeer, were withdrawn after complaints that the print ads gave the impression that the products were completely handmade from start to finish, and that at no point was machinery involved in the manufacturing process. In reality, this is not the case. Craftmanship by hand is indeed a significant part of the process, but the ASA deemed this insufficient. It is also unlikely that such young, beautiful people as depicted in the advertisements work in such immaculate clothing with only chiaroscuro lighting to work by, but there did not seem to be any complaints regarding these artistic licenses. Perhaps this is because such things should be taken with a pinch of salt, instead of at face value. Diagnosis: Not good
Louis Vuitton continues to contest in court in efforts to cut down on the re-selling of goods or the distribution of counterfeit products. The last victory came recently against eBay when the company was fined €200k in damages and €30k in legal costs made payable to Louis Vuitton. TelecomPaper reported “The court described as ‘parasitic’ eBay’s purchase of keywords such as ‘Wuittton’, ‘Viton’ and ‘Vitton’ so that online shoppers searching under these misspellings would be directed to links promoting eBay.” More recently, however, holding company LVMH lost it’s battle with Google over charges “that Google’s practice of selling keywords in advertising searches to the highest bidder damaged trademark law”, according to the BBC. Diagnosis: A tie
Lastly, having already made clear it’s association with a new part of the Journeys campaign – previously featuring such luminaries as Sean Connery, Keith Richards and Catherine Deneuve – that had Pelé, Zidane and Maradonna huddled around a table football game together, this week the company cemented the connection. Vogue recently reported that the World Cup would have an official home in a piece of luggage designed specifically for it by Vuitton. The luggage was revealed in Paris to great fanfare, by that [super]model of restraint, Naomi Campbell. Diagnosis: Very good
It’s been a period of mixed blessings for Louis Vuitton, some of which were completely out of their hands. It’s had some big wins with the new London store opening, as well as the excellent association it has created with the impending World Cup. Long-term, it will be fascinating to see if this is the beginning of a brand embracing to an increasing extent the entertainments and pastimes of the masses (prior to the World Cup, the only sport Vuitton had been involved in was the America’s Cup sailing race, crewed and supported by nought but multi-multi-millionaires), and how they will maintain an aspirational slant if they do so (presumably by continuing to charge £300+ for a shirt). Exciting times are ahead, no doubt…
Louis Vuitton, like everyone else, is keenly aware that the World Cup is approaching. Zeitgeist has a habit – recently pointed out by a colleague over lunch – of rarely making statements that would encompass what the whole of Zeitgeist would think about a certain subject; much like the Holy Trinity, though we are many, we are one. E pluribus, unum. In this instance, the worlds of Zeitgeist have collided together.
Ogilvy Paris started the “Journeys” campaign for Louis Vuitton in 2007, and since then, brand ambassadors like Gorbachev, Sean Connery and tennis legends Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff have been featured. In it’s latest inception, three football phenoms – Maradona, Zidane and Pelé – are caught in an empty café playing table football together, while to the side sits monogrammed Vuitton luggage. In the spot below, Maradona introduces the clash of the titans between Zidane and Pelé. Vogue has more. To vote for who you think will win, click here. It’s a timely piece, one that fits nicely into the rest of the campaign, and the interactive feature is a nice touch. Could they have done more though? There’s nothing on Vuitton’s Twitter or YouTube accounts about these new ads yet.
The company’s holding group, LVMH, meanwhile, have launched a new website “that allows luxury brands to showcase high-quality branded film content against a more sophisticated design aesthetic and insider editorial voice that luxury-goods consumers have come to expect”. PSFK has more. If you’d like to do your own little bit for LVMH and tell them about your perceptions of luxury brands as well as your Twitter use, click here.
From the Winter 2009 Zeitgeist…
Brand ambassadors are nothing new. Napoleon (seen above in a casual pose) has long been such an ambassador for the watchmaker Breguet, having worn one during his short (for he was short) life. But what happens when the real world conflicts with the manufactured artifice? Are all of Andre Agassiʼs triumphs now overshadowed by drug addiction? What of recent rumours that Tony the Tiger is diabetic?
Tiger Woodsʼ indiscretions have highlighted such concerns; what happens when an athlete who is not only a champion in his chosen field, but also seemingly the epitome of a gentleman in his private life, turns out to be less than perfect? Tigerʼs presence – a young man of mixed ethnicity in a sport dominated by old, rotund white guys obsessed with the faux exclusivity of country clubs – was a huge statement in of itself. It was for all these reasons though that some major blue-chip brands chose to invest in his good name. Who can forget the fantastic Nike spot of yesteryear?
While his namesake currently graces the Spirit Airlines website, Tiger can unfortunately no longer be found on the Accenture homepage. For a company to so abruptly end such a sponsorship is an enormous blow to both parties and both brands. Industry Standard wrote, “Tiger has literally become the sole face, the strategic embodiment, the business essence of Accenture, the $22 billion global IT, outsourcing and business consultancy proclaim[ing]: ʻWe know what it takes to be a Tiger.ʼ Everything about that slogan has now become a PR debacle, comedian’s punch line and perplexing psychological examination…”.
Tiger is now on an “indefinite” leave from golf and the brands that rely on the sportsman solely for his golfing prowess are sure to be affected. Electronics Arts will have a hard time selling the umpteenth version of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise if the eponymous player does not compete. TV ratings for golf tournaments will similarly suffer, according to the FT and New York Times. Nike, PepsiCo and AT&T are all of a ʻwait and seeʼ mindset. Gillette will “remove its Woods-related advertising for now” in order to respect his much sought-after privacy. Gilletteʼs triumvirate has suffered of late. Thierry Henry is also mired in scandal after denying Ireland a place in the World Cup by somewhat guiding a ball with his hand at a crucial point in the game. Gillette has denied the act will affect his contract. Roger Federer seems to be the only one currently untainted, though not wishing to jinx him, Zeitgeist will move swiftly on…
Ultimately, such crises can be fleeting. Michael Phelps, pictured with a bong and promptly dropped by Kelloggʼs, will not be forgotten for winning a Fort Knox-worth of gold medals in Beijing. NFL player Michael Vick organised brutal dogfights in his free time, but returned to the game to cheers from the fickle crowd. There may be lasting impact this time, however. As the Zeitgeist team have said before, if caught, the best practice is to immediately admit culpability, express sincere contriteness and take ownership of the situation, as Accenture have done.
From the October Zeitgeist…
Experiments during international football matches are nothing new. With barely a dozen games taking place each season, injuries, suspensions and form force managers to try out new players and tactics on a regular basis. However, for the recent World Cup
qualifier against Ukraine, England fans had to face a trial of a very different kind.
Way back when the draw was made back in 2007, the Ukrainian Football Association sold the UK broadcasting rights to Kentaro, a sports rights management company. Kentaro in turn, sold the rights to Setanta who slid into administration in June 2009. With Setanta’s demise the rights reverted back to Kentaro who urgently looked for a new buyer. The trouble they faced was that by this point England had pretty much guaranteed their qualification for the World Cup and no broadcaster could justify paying top dollar for a game they would struggle to hype up.
With time ticking and negotiations with traditional broadcasters getting nowhere, Kentaro sold the rights to Perform, the digital sports specialist who stream over 15,000 events a year. This watershed decision catapulted the otherwise mundane match into the history books making it the first competitive England match to be screened exclusively online.
Unsurprisingly, the initial reaction to the news was quite negative. Fans weren’t happy that they would have to watch the game on their monitor rather than their 42” TV. With over 50 pubs closing each week, landlords were also frustrated that they were going to miss out on a lucrative payday, though fans were still able to watch in groups at Odeon cinemas around the country. In the end, over 500,000 fans watched the game that was priced between £4.99 and £11.99 depending on when you signed up. A success of sorts though not a huge audience compared to the 8million that watched the previous England match on ITV.
What the anger shown by fans highlights is how quickly we can get used to changes in media and how a novelty soon becomes expected. It wasn’t so long ago that England games weren’t broadcast live at all and away games, particularly those from the ‘Eastern Bloc’ were at best ‘Low Definition’. We have become used to accessing high quality sport via a range of satellite and cable channels. Equally, as we get more and more familiar with applications like BBC iPlayer and an increasing number of mobile devices allow ever speedier connections to the internet the next generation of sports fan might look back at traditional, exclusively offline broadcasting of major events as being as outdated as black and white TV looks to us.
Regardless of the popularity of the decision, the Ukraine experiment shows that live sporting events can be streamed successfully to a large audience. As such we can look forward to more and more of them being broadcast online until it becomes the norm.
Just make sure you remember ‘Ukraine’ for that pub quiz in 2019.