New Guardian campaign is zagging a bit too much

As much as BBH has created some of the world’s most impressive ads like their long history with Axxe/Lynx, and they are known for zagging when the rest of the world zigs, they might have taken the zagging a bit too far.

A few years ago, they created the story of the three pigs who set their house on fire to get insurance money and then blame it on the wolf (you can see the video of that here in case you missed it). And yes, they won Cannes Lions prizes for it. So it was truly a ‘zagging’ campaign. But they decided to go further this time for their client The Guardian, and they created something which resembles an apocalyptic, American blockbuster action/horror movie campaign which I’m not sure appeals to many. In the attempt to own the weekend, they appear to be copywriting the term weekend, brain-washing/turning into zombies citizens and providing everything you need for the weekend.

Sure, it might spike conversation as I’m writing about it right now, it might raise a few eyebrows but it’s one of those ads that are made for the award rather than for the client. Does it make me buy the Guardian? No. But maybe I’m not the target audience for it. What do you think?

Last square, Milka’s take on the Coca-Cola campaign

It’s not often you see that companies actually change their products specifically for a marketing campaign. There’s the huge success of Coca-Cola in Australia and then Europe with the names printed on the bottles or cans in order to increase sales. At the time when I discovered the first campaign from Australia, I wrote a post on my old advertising blog, which you can read here. I was amazed at the simplicity of the campaign designed to simply sell. Which ultimately what every ad should do as Master Ogilvy once said.

After Coca-Cola’s worldwide success, another company changed their product for a campaign, but it wasn’t one I would have thought of. Milka, the chocolate company, introduced a campaign in which you could send the last missing piece of a bar to a friend, or claim it back through the post. This might sound simple, but it actually meant restructuring the production of the bars. The ‘Last Square’ was introduced to the French market and you can see a presentation video below.

Question is, will it be as successful as Coca-Cola’s campaign? Does it have the same drive to make people buy? I could have an indefinite collection of bottles with my name, but will I want to send a piece of chocolate to all my friends? In a digital-driven world, this campaign seems to combine a good amount of new media and actual physical product promotion. We know chocolate is on everyone’s craving list but does it have the power to entice for more. I think yes, but for a short term. Is it enough to make you buy? Tell me your thoughts.

Being afraid of non-worthy ideas

Keeping in contact with friends is hard. Keeping in contact with unfamiliar people who take the time to read whatever your mind decides it’s worthy of launching in the universe is even harder. So for fear of exposing non-worthy ideas, you push back the time to write and you find yourself updating the blog after more than a month. Yes, I’m talking about myself. What can I say, I’m guilty as charged. But let’s mend that with some excuses/updates/events/non-worthy (?) ideas.

1. I’ve been working on the 42 business, creating more products and preparing for a new fair. And it seems that time does bring good ideas and experience as we appeared to have found our best painting technique yet. (Insert cheeky advertising: products are running out, so if you’ve thought of getting one, do it now! I’m not joking) The last fair we attended was special for us. We decided to go the extra mile in attracting children so we became a bit friendlier by painting our faces which brought us the Best Sales Team Award!

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2. I’ve been reading about the topic of my dissertation (which is an investigation of the current role of traditional above-the-line advertising in a much social-media hyped world) and it appears, to my great delight, that there are people out there who think just like me and there is empirical evidence supporting that advertising is not dead at all, but still supporting the branding and sales of a company to a significant greater extent than social media (more on this to follow, so stay tuned).

3. I’ve been accepted to a next stage in the interview process for the Institute of Direct Marketing Summer School (insert fireworks here yaaaay!) and I couldn’t be more nervous or excited at the thought of having a shot of getting in. Lessons are taught by practitioners and you get to work on a live marketing brief. For more information, visit their page.

4. Enjoyed Easter in no-Internet country Wales with beautiful scenery, mountain walks, cuddles and plenty of chocolate. Sorry, had to get that in.

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Hope to write again soon. Meanwhile, I’ll be pretty much like this.

The advertising vs. social media battle

As you have probably realised if you’ve read previous posts at all, I have an interest, no, I am passionate about advertising. I believe in it. Even when people criticise it, when they call it morally corrupt or even when they see it dead. Today, I’ve had the great opportunity to learn about a respected professor who justifies my thinking. His name is Byron Sharp and together with other reputable scientists study the empirical aspects of marketing. In order words, they don’t come up with theories for the sake of publishing, they challenge what is there and have the research to support it. This is his book and *hint* *hint* my birthday is in two months.

 To very shortly describe it, what Professor Sharp argues is that against popular (Kotlerian) theory, companies should target light users of their brand despite their switching between different products because that is where the growth opportunity lies. Thus, his argument goes, a Coca-Cola heavy users will buy Coca-Cola regardless of the advertising he sees on TV because he is a heavy user in the first place. So even though it is more difficult to talk to the people which are not paying attention and couldn’t care less about your brand, they should be your audience.

The argument goes further to the realm of social media and the huge buzz created around. Companies like Procter & Gamble are said to cut back on their advertising to rely more on new Internet-based media. However, the customers who are most likely to “friend” your brand on facebook are already heavy users or people who aspire to your brand but will frankly never afford it (see luxury products like Burberry having nearly 15 million fans). A light or non-user would never go on Facebook to like your brand. Thus, it is still advertising that can help you reach and expose those people to your brand. Whether they will be persuaded is a whole other story worthy of a post on its own.

Then Martin Weigel, Head of Planning at W+K Amsterdam, discussed the concept of engagement and the hype around it. He rightfully claims that engagement as a concept is not new. Rather, it has been around for a long time although not manifested in the same way and social media is just another platform rather than the only platform that creates it. He gives the example of the Launderette ad from Levi’s which translated into a huge increase in the 501 jeans and people reacting to the ad to the point of putting up posters of Nick (the hunk in the ad) in their rooms. For those of you who haven’t seen it or those who want to see this classic again, enjoy!

And for those of you who felt inspired by my short description or not convinced at all and you want to hear more arguments from the source, you can see the video from the talk with the two,  I think it’s brilliant.

The best description of advertising I’ve ever come across

“You need to know that advertising means different things to different people. It’s a business, an art form, an institution and a cultural phenomenon. To the CEO of a multinational corporation like Pepsi, advertising is an essential marketing tool that helps create brand awareness and brand loyalty. To the owner of a small retail shop, advertising is a way to bring people into the store.

To the art director of an advertising agency, advertising is the creative expression of a concept. To a media planner, advertising is the way a firm uses the media to communicate to current and potential customers. To scholars and museum curators, advertising is an important cultural artefact, text, and historical record. Advertising means something different to all these people.

Even though companies believe in and rely heavily on advertising, it is not a process that the average person understands of values. Most people have some significant misinterpretations about advertising and what it’s supposed to do, what it can do and what it can’t do. Many people think advertising deceives others but rarely themselves. Most think it’s a semi-glamorous profession but one in which people are either morally bankrupt con artists or pathological liars. At worst, advertising is seen as hype, unfair capitalistic manipulation, banal commercial noise, mind control, postmodern voodoo, or outright deception. At best, people see advertising as amusing, informative, helpful and occasionally hip.

The truth about advertising lies somewhere between the extremes. Sometimes advertising is hard-hitting and powerful, at other times it’s boring and ineffective. Advertising can be enormously creative and entertaining, and it can simply be annoying. One thing is for sure: advertising is anything but unimportant”
– O’Guinn et al, 2011

Lesson to take away? You might be on either side of the argument, but acknowledge that the truth is in the middle and that in some cases the other side is right. But not always.