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Archive for the category “Experimental Marketing”

Eight lessons marketing professionals can learn from Kolaveri

The digital world has so disrupted the business models of newspapers, radio, television, music and even Hollywood that the yin and yang of mass media and mass marketing are flying apart. We are in the midst of total collapse of the media infrastructure we have taken for granted for 400 years.

– Bob Garfield Advertising Age Columnist in The Chaos Scenario, 13 April 2005

Aye, have you heard this weird song. Kolaveri, Kolaveri? Is got close to a million views on YouTube. Is it Malu or what? What does Kolaveri mean?

– Digital Dude Aged 24, 17 November 2011

Screen grab from Youtube

Six years after Bob Garfield provoked the marketing and advertising industry with his seminal piece in Advertising Age, Digital Dude (quoted above) discovers that Kolaveri Di has gone viral on YouTube. Dude does not know Bob Garfield nor has he read The Chaos Scenario. But he is among the millions who have given Kolaveri another view, helping to further shoot the video on to the centre stage of India’s pop culture and unwittingly endorsing the premise of Bob’s book.
Now clients want agencies to do a Kolaveri like video for their brands. Yes we got two briefs in the last two days and are struggling to explain why we cannot do a Kolaveri. What we do have are some lessons from the said video and similar memes.

Lesson 1. You don’t make a Kolaveri. It happens. Amen. Here are, one, two stories from the guys at Jack in the Box, the digital agency behind the viral on how it happened.

Lesson 2. You can’t separate marketing and PR from the agency anymore. Being a movie based video Kolaveri has an advantage over traditional marketing content. Yet reading the agency’s POV on this, PR was strategically used to give the video the traction.  Starting now we need to create all kinds of synergies to get people’s attention. Marketing, PR, HR, sales, service working together, in tandem…

Lesson 3.  Speed is the new element in a marketing person’s arsenal. To read Dhanush’s interview post the success of the song and to believe that the song was written in some 6 minutes. Well that’s as much time it takes to find an empty conference room these days. Speed was on display when W+K decided to bring on the OldSpice Man on to Twitter and YouTube. 180+ videos created in two days. Wow!

Lesson 4. YouTube is the TV channel for urban Indian youth. Mahesh Murthy (look up his 20 new rules of marketing here) and Reem Syed are some of the prominent voices in India who believe how lopsided marketing budgets are with respect to digital media. The impact of Kolaveri Di should put an end to that discussion. In fact this Google Trends comparison between two recent hits, Airtel’s Har Friend Zaroori Hota Hai and Kolaveri shows you that without a dime spent on TV, Kolaveri has blown past an ad that was heavily promoted on all channels, online included. Even in places like Ludhiana and Chandigarh,  Kolaveri beat out the Airtel ad.

Lesson 5. In a low friction world,  we learnt a great idea will have imitators like in the case of Cadbury’s s Gorilla. In India we have struggled to get people to create interesting content that feeds off a rage. Kolaveri is showing us that good ideas will be copied and remixed in real time. What are we agencies and marketers doing to create memes that can be remixed?

Lesson 6. Hum-ability counts, not meaning. Cartoonist Hugh McLeod had something fundamental to say  in this cartoon. Most marketing messages are so overloaded that they lose any humanity whatsoever. The lyrics in Kolaveri are so nonlinear that they start a conversation and further its spread.  RIP Link Test?

Lesson 7. Ideas like these can spawn real time marketing opportunities. Pepsico’s Digital Marketing Head talks about how the best marketing in the future will need to grab real time opportunities that could come by. A viral the scale of Kolaveri could have spawned many opportunities. A line of Kolaveri Di Tshirts. A promo around the song. A smart entrepreneur could have started a Kolaveri Di FAQs page and made some money from placing Ads on the page. Missed opportunities.

Lesson 8. The long tail brings interesting content back into circulation. This one has nothing to do with Kolaveri. But another video that’s been doing the rounds recently, the  flash mob in Mumbai Central has been doing the rounds. The Youtube video has already notched up an impressive 200,000+ views in two days. On the back of this, an older, forgotten one from May this year is getting a second life, for free. The Internet never forgets, but no ad that’s shown on TV can ever have a second coming without the advertiser wanting to rerun it.

An Agency of Makers.

In a first for a non-technology company, Unilever brand AXE had called for a developers’ day in early October.  One that I believe has a strong message for agencies.

Digital is the way ahead. Yes!

While there’s nothing path breaking about this fact, I’d like to argue that agencies can participate in the digital revolution in ways we have never imagined. Not just by being partners of our clients as we have always been, but by making things for ourselves, and profiting from it.

Planner Griffin Farley is one of the smartest minds out there. He makes an interesting point in this presentation on Fringe Planning, and I borrow shamelessly (God bless the Internet).  Slides 16 and 17 are noteworthy.  “Ad Agencies have recruited some of the smartest creative people out there.” And 17, “the byproduct of agencies are ideas that don’t get sold, or are not appropriate for a particular client.”

I see the second point as particularly appropriate. With agencies thinking up more business ideas as part of the integrated marketing communications mix these days, than merely communication ideas as they did in the past. For example, this Cannes winner from Tesco is not so much a communication idea as much as a business changing idea. Or the recent announcement from Shoppers Stop of setting up a Facebook store is a business idea, and less a marketing one.

So how are agencies taking advantage of the rich stream of “by products” they create? Griffin has listed out a few in his deck.

Anomaly, an agency with offices out of New York and London discovered YouTube amateur Lauren Luke and helped her develop, manufacture and market her own range of cosmetics. This is not a one off from Anomaly. They have developed a few IPable ideas, including ShopText, a mobile based shopping and couponing and commerce service.

There are other agencies too who think alike. Among the better known ones, BBH has Zag, a brand inventions agency. Deutsch has Consigliere, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal and Partners  have KSBP Ventures. While independent traditional agencies have set up innovation shops, there are a new bunch of making agencies building things and creating a niche for themselves. Breakfast out of New York, Definition6 , the guys behind the Coke Happiness Machine, Deep Local, who built the NikeChalk bot, or London based agency, ustwo, who have a portfolio of client work and a bunch of independent products.

What connects these new agencies? Unlike traditional agencies that spend their energies creating communications ideas, the new ones are focusing on out and out innovation for their clients and for themselves. Thinking product ideas, which can be patented, to create intellectual property and build new revenue streams in the future.

A simple way for agencies to take advantage of “making” opportunities, we have to go beyond the campaign mentality. For example, with mobile apps, now accepted as a tool for marketing. (Most traditional agencies have an app or two to show off these days which means we have cracked the model of how to imagine and make them.) So instead of doing an app for, say, a diwali mela campaign, could we think long term? If we can understand the key reason for a person to buy a brand or use a service and then build something that fulfills an unmet need.

As this story in Fast Company points, can agencies think more like startups, and less like communication partners? Or as advertising planner Russell Davies goads us so eloquently in Wired UK, make things, not messaging platforms.

In a changed world, there are ways of making them happen. Thomas Freidman pointed us to some mega trends in his bestselling tome The World if Flat. For this story, the key ones from the book are outsourcing, rapid prototyping, workflow software and supply chaining.

So an idea, that comes up in a brainstorm, ideas that we agencies are so good at spotting, can be scaled up with help from partners who the agency has relationships with, and taken to market with the support of a client, or independently.

To do this we will need to add new skill sets though. Which is where agencies will have to have the startup mentality. We have rarely hired to build revenues in the future. But an agency with a headcount that runs into many hundreds can afford a small team of geeks, engineers and project managers for sure.

In a state of the union address early this year, Barack Obama told his country that their future lies in taking leadership of innovation. I believe the same should apply to the communication business that is seeing its fundamentals shifting with the arrival of the digital revolution.

DIY culture is a growing trend. This trend is spawning whole revolution, led by small groups of people who are using technology, easy connectivity, access to venture capital and microfinance.

Advertising as an industry that has a rich history of identifying and nurturing creativity. Unlike engineers, we are masters at helping find a way to make things that make an emotional connection with people. Could an agency create the next Angry Birds, Instagram, Klout or Hipstamatic asks this story. I believe we have the credentials. The inclination? Let’s wait to hear from the winners of the Axe developers’ day.

The Genius of Social Media

Like my friend Reem Saied, if you have a habit of looking at Twitter trends, you too must have noticed a rogue trend a few days ago. Govind Tiwari. The man was No 1 in India and No 5 worldwide in Twitter’s trending topics.

Govind Tiwari from Allahabad as his blog proudly introduced him. A funky, retro site that struggled to keep up with the traffic that landed on the page.

He was either a brilliant marketing idea or some white hat spoof (I had a few warnings pop up on my anti virus, as I clicked on some links) designed to show off the power of social media.

The event had all the elements of a wonderfully worked new media campaign. Like with Twitter, the man’s images had taken the pole position on Google Images. A Facebook page (half a dozen gold diggers too) that is nicely curated. A Linkedin profile that said he is an engineering student (a new one that came up a few hours later gave him more credibility.) A YouTube page, Govind Tiwari 11, created a few months ago. And of course an Orkut page, Orkutiya as he called it, where he invited people to be fraands.

The digital world recognized his genius though. With the buzz the topic was getting, experts are chipping in. He could have made over $ 35,000 in Google ad revenues in a day with the traffic he got on his page says this tweet. Someone advised him to join Apple or Microsoft. Plugged.in talked about SEO lessons from Govind Tiwari, his blog was the top result on Google during the frenzy.

Brands are lining up to make hay. Kingfisher promised him a month’s supply of beer. AXE Angels reached out to help him. MTV is chipped in with some smart ones too.

To me Govind Tiwari is truly a well worked experiment in Transmedia story telling. Perhaps the best we have seen from India, or done by an Indian somewhere.  Create a well worked character. Build in some quirks and traits that get talked about. Use every media channel uniquely to further the story. This chipmunk video that sings Sheela Ki Jawani on the YouTube is just in line with character in the campaign, yet not the same thing.

So who is Govind Tiwari? An 18 year old having fun from his home somewhere. A hacker who managed to game the Twitter trending engine? A marketer who has managed to capture the collective imagination of people trawling social media channels? Rather than say WTF?, I say genius, Hats off sir Govind Tiwari Allahabadwalle!

Advertising. Not Like the Music Industry.

There have been many stories in the media in the last few weeks about the decay of advertising. There was this long one about The Future of Advertising in Fast Company. BusinessWeek countered it with this one on how Big Dumb Agencies may not be going away anywhere soon. The most provocative one, however was by Adaptive Path’s Peter Merholz. It was a brutal piece, one that tore apart our business as one with a “poisonous core”. While there has been a lot of debate and discussion around the post – in fact Peter has posted a rejoinder explaining various points on his original one, I thought the last item on his first rant to be a bit off key.  Advertising Agencies are the New Music Industry, he wrote.

I am not sure if the music industry analogy is the right one for the advertising business. While just like the music business, traditional advertising is being run over by the arrival of the Internet and other digital mediums, unlike the music industry, which went down primarily because of the growth of file sharing, I think advertising will evolve thanks to a combination of many smaller changes.

Search Marketing. While Google and others in the search marketing business are seeing exceptional growth, search marketing alone will not end advertising as we know it.

Social Media. Yes it is hot at the moment and will be extremely important in the years to come. Social media engagement will be one of the many things that marketers will need to help manage a brand.

PR. For years PR was a discipline that marketing had little influence over. Bougsky’s allegedly famous quote “…write me the press release” aptly describes how PR has become an important mover of marketing messages. Recently Pepsi’s Shiv Singh tweeted about wanting a partner who was a combination of a digital agency, a traditional agency and a PR company.

Video. BMW films showed us what can be done when branded messages are played out in digital media. There have been many experiments that have followed. The age of video, though, is just beginning to play out.

Mobile. Mobile devices will have as much or more impact on the marketing business as computers, TV and radio have had in the past. Always connected, always on phones are a tsunami that will change traditional messaging, but will need to do more to completely annihilate brand messages.

Location Based Services. These new and emerging concepts will add another dimension to real-time marketing. There are some simple and straight forward “Minority Report” kind of possibilities that location based messaging can do. These concepts will evolve and amaze us in the years to come.

Reality Enhanced. Ideas like augmented reality are just being experimented with at the moment. There will be more we will do by overlaying smart digital ideas over real things in the future.

Gaming. In an attention starved world, inventive new branded or brand embedded  games will give marketers access into the minds of people.

Crowdsourcing. Not so much a concept as much as an approach to producing ideas. Crowdsourcing will chip away advertising agency strongholds and change advertising in many ways.

Amazement. For decades, advertising had this knack of creating jaw-dropping moments. Not anymore. Anyone with a digital camera can now. Ads now have to fight even harder to be seen and talked about.

Marketers, marketing messages and the ones who create them, advertising agencies, will have to change to stay in touch with people who have lot more to do. The reason for this change will be many. All of them equally relevant.

Coke’s Happiness Ambassadors.

Now that the hype behind the world’s best job has died down, let’s welcome Coke’s Happiness Ambassadors. And these ambassadors are on a mission to find happiness in the 206 different countries that sell Coca-Cola products across the world. See the introductory video here. Participants in teams of 3 had to nominate themselves and go through some grueling rounds of voting to get to become the team to visit all the countries that sell Coke the world. The year long mission starts in Jan 2010. Visit the Expedition 206 site here. More here

What It Takes To Be A Social Media Agency?

We have been covering the thinking of Mullen’s Edward Boches quite often in this newsletter. And here are two posts that are actually one. On what it takes to be a social media agency. We think the simple answer is that you have to be three things. A traditional creative agency who understands brands and branding, a media agency who understands the media side of business, specially new media bits, and finally be a software company who is able to build small, but good looking applications that can work on the web, on phones and elsewhere. Edward (as corrected by the great man himself, see comments) however has a more specific list of 14. And it curiously starts with the more complex skills. Understanding and using professional listening tools: There is a new generation of companies like Radian6 who have built platforms for companies to hear and make sense of what consumers are saying about their brands and services. A social media agency will need to understand how this game is played. Presence Engineering. A bit jargony this one, is the ability to go into social media spaces like Facebook and Orkut and create ways to engage with people who are spending time here. Content creation. While agencies have been creating TV commercials and ads for over a century, there is a need to create new kinds of content that are not brand messages. Stuff that users will willingly access and pass around. New social agencies need to be bit PR companies as well. They need to have relationships with blogging community. This has proven tricky for many companies and will continue to stay this way. Employee Mobilisation: Help companies getting their own employees to believe in the things they do by creating employee engagement programs, and then let employees use belief to connect with people from the outside. Viral Mobilisation: understand the importance of building and nurturing memes. Help clients with crisis management, specially when the outbreak starts online and begins to spread. Building technology utilities and apps: for the web, the desktop and the phone. Having an understanding of search engine optimization. This is where the media planners come in to social media agencies. Knowing how search engines rank pages and finding ways to ensure that your pages come up tops when people search. Crowdsourcing: the whole point here is to engage with a group of creators and sustain their interest in the project. CPB recently did a crowdsourcing project that got into a bit of controversy. Web Development. Agencies, like it or not, will need to understand web development big time. Not just of the microsite kind, but deep engaging ones. Measurement and analytics, how to understand and engage with visitors online, who are the people coming, and why are they coming to our site. The ability to build alliances and partnerships. Here, Ed talks about the ability to work closely with partners in creating communication solutions mostly. Unlike the relationships agencies had in the past with production houses, there is a need to build long term alliances with companies and people who could almost be competing with the agency, at times. And of course the most important skill set that an agency already possesses. The need to go out and build experiences out there. Read the Edward Boches blog Creativity Unbound here

Generous Brands

Fallon London’s John King writes about why, in future, all brands will be generous, additive ones to people and culture. They will help build ideas in the world; they leave something behind. There are two ways to do it, says King: You can focus on the old model and fill your cardboard sign with a supply-side sob story ("Broke, out-of-work veteran"). Or you can take a more generous approach: singing a song, making people smile or opening a door. Brands must learn that empty pockets will never earn as much as the empty guitar case. Generosity, he says isn’t charity or cause marketing. While the recent economic woes have made mercy marketing the norm, with Hyundai’s brilliant assurance idea leading the way, generosity is broader in concept. John King’s five tips for building generous brands: Oh Behave! To be successful today requires pushing past positioning toward behavior. Generous brands behave; they do things for people. Uncover the value equation; using a simple research exercise we often use called "Ask/Thank." When interviewing consumers, we’ve found it helpful to start by having them ask the brand for three things and thank the brand for three things. We’ve found their answers provide an excellent glimpse into the existing value equation for the brands we work on. Get in their schedule. Marketers need to get away from thinking about themselves and their targets to find areas in people’s lives and sync giving into that. "Drive sales in Q3!" — a concept that has no relevance on the consumer calendar. Slippy Digital. The most impactful digital experiences today are designed to create portable, slippy content that allows people to take your brand places. Take a bigger role Every brand has a choice: Be stingy or be generous. A stingy brand chooses to focus entirely on product information, asking the consumer to walk up and knock on its door. A generous brand chooses to take a bigger role in the consumer’s life, opening the doors and windows and providing shared ownership. More in AdAge

Ask The PM

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s has a YouTube Channel that features exclusive content online. The interesting bit about this experiment is that he gives ordinary people the ability to ask questions which he will respond to on the channel.

Life Without TV. Will Radical CMOs Reshape Marketing?

As the upfronts loom many big brands – like General Motors and Citibank – are slashing their spends on television advertising out of necessity. But another factor to consider is the maverick CMO who is willing to spend a lot less on TV advertising or cut it out entirely. Partially, it’s a response to market conditions, but some marketers say the economy is prompting them to take a chance on new forms of marketing. Susan Lintonsmith, CMO for Red Robin, said the economy is definitely one impetus for going without TV. “It’s a little of everything,” she said. At Best Buy, CMO Barry Judge has another view: TV advertising is important, but can be undermined by a bad consumer experience, so he cut his TV spends by 40 percent and opted to spend it on increasing staff in the company’s stores and on improving the company’s Web site. Other marketers are moving away from TV because they feel that there are other needs their communication budgets need to fulfill. Like in the case of Century 21st, where the CMO felt that the brand had 98% awareness, and that their customers were looking for information in other areas. Research has shown them that most potential home buyers or sellers—about 87 percent—go online before making a purchase. So they took money out of TV and are reallocating it to online—namely paid search, display ads and social media. Read the full story in BrandWeek.

Stories From The Aisle. Boom Time For Shopper Marketing.

Not the first time are we writing about shopper marketing. And there’s good reason for doing so. Because the dynamics in the media landscape have changed, and now the one place you can still aggregate a mass audience is in-store. If 35 million Americans watched the season ending finale of American Idol, the most watched show on television, some 150 million Americans pass through the revolving doors of WalMart, Costco, Walgreens, Safeway and Kroger to boast weekly shopper counts of 20 million, 30 million, 44 million and 68 million, respectively. Point of sale is probably the most important point at which shoppers makes choices, and if you can hit them with a message, you can measure it with a sales lift. A study by Booze & Co found that over the next three years, in-store marketing activity will grow at a higher rate than any other marketing tactic. One of the key inflection points in this space has been WalMart’s decision to start an instore TV channel. With over 2600 locations around the US and hundreds and thousands of TV screens the network will rival the reach of traditional TV network. The IPTV based network is capable of delivering a precise message at the moment of purchase, down to one single screen. In India too such networks are beginning to proliferate. Future Group’s Future TV is one such player connecting up 10 million customers a week. Although there is a lot of buzz surrounding these latest in-store shopper marketing strategies, there’s still an ailing economy driving decisions. That could cause companies to pause before jumping into the newer in-store networks and rely on the tried-and-true shopper marketing tactics. More in AdWeek.

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