The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Sometimes The Audience Finds You …

So I recently read an article on the UK distributors of Danish store, Tiger.

Tiger is often referred to as ‘Posh Poundland’ as it sells all manner of stuff.

Anyway, in 2005, a husband and wife – with no business experience whatsoever – decided to pour all the money they had into buying the rights for the brand in the UK.

They openly admit it was very difficult and they made many mistakes but 11 years later, they sold it for an estimated 40+ million pounds.

So far so good, but what really interested me was something they said at the end of the interview …

How brilliant is that.

It’s also a great lesson in thinking about your audience.

Too often, our industry defines audiences by the segment we believe are the most likely to want to buy our brand/product.

While that makes perfect sense, the problem is we are often end up being pretty generalistic in who we define our audience to be … often because our clients are petrified of putting limitations on their sales potential. The other problem with this broad audience approach is that it tends to end up being the audience for the whole category, which means we end up pitting ourselves directly against our competition.

What I love about this Tiger example is – albeit by lucky accident – they realised their was a very specific segment who were attracted to this product. A segment that liked it for reasons beyond what was expected, and yet was something that actively drove them to buy.

Now I admit it takes balls to do this.

It also takes absolute honesty.

And confidence.

But when defining audiences, it’s always worth remembering the motivations for purchase are often very different to what we would like to think they are. Of course we know this, but when in front of a client, it’s amazing how often we either temporarily forget or simply choose to ignore.

By being absolutely open to who could/should be interested in our clients brands, we not only stand the chance of making work that truly resonates with a particular segment, but one that automatically differentiates you from the countless competitors all trying to steal your share, which is why I still love the V&A London museum ad from the 80’s, where Saatchi’s [in their absolute pomp] realised the thing people liked most about the place was the cafe, which led to them running ad’s with the bravest ‘endline’ you may ever see …




A Reminder That Expertise Doesn’t Mean Acceptance …

NIKON.

A fantastic camera brand with unquestionable credibility.

Now of course, many camera brands are under threat from the increasing quality – and convenience – of smartphone cameras, which is why many are trying to diversify their portfolio to counter any potential profit loss.

Based on this ad, it appears NIKON are trying to do this as well.

Of course, as we have seen from GOPRO and countless other brands … the ‘live action camera’ category has been growing at an incredible rate and while you could argue NIKON might be a bit late to the party, their credibility in cameras stands them in good stead.

Except it doesn’t.

You see what NIKON have failed to understand is that the ‘live action category’ is very different to the photographic category … sure, they both involve needing a lens to capture the action, but fundamentally the rules are different, the values are different and the culture around it are very different.

As I wrote here, GOPRO’s success is not just because they were one of the first to exploit this market, but because they were part of the culture that created this market.

They understood who these people were.

What they do.

What they want.

What they feel.

This knowledge influenced everything … from their positioning [the utterly brilliant, ‘Be A Hero’] through to the style of advertising they created.

The fact NIKON’s ad shows an image that comes from the perspective of watching others do something, highlights how they have failed to understand the audience they are talking too.

All they’ve done is transfer their photographic approach to their communication … but the audience they need to engage have a totally different set of values and aspirations.

Of course it would be hard for them to achieve this given GOPRO have already nailed it with their ‘in the middle of the action‘ photographic style … but that’s the difference between a brand that looks at a category as a sales opportunity versus a brand that is born from the culture it plans to engage with.

As I’ve said many, many times … culture is far more important than category.

Don’t let anyone tell you different.

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PS: Happy Australia Day … a day where you are not just legitimately allowed to get pissed before 10am, but positively encouraged to be. Have a top day. And a top hangover tomorrow.



So What Does Your Advertising Say About Your Country …

So I saw this quote recently and I admit I found it very interesting.

Yes, I know there are flaws with it … from being a generalised statement to being dependent on the media you individually engage with … however if you put that aside and look at it from the perspective of mainstream communication, I do think there’s something in it.

Which begs the question …

If you were to really look at the ads trying to grab your attention today, what do you think they are saying about the values, attitude and aspirations of the country you live in.

I’m genuinely interested to get your perspective. Thank-you.



An Oldie. But A Semi-Goldie …

This is one of those ads that is constantly referred to as being a perfect example of perfect advertising.

David Ogilvy was behind it – spending 3 weeks doing nothing but reading about the car – before producing that amazing headline.

OK, so there is some conjecture whether he came up with it or not, but regardless, it’s one hell of a headline.

But here’s the thing, when you read the rest of the ad, I’m not sure if its worthy of all the accolades bestowed upon it.

Sure it comes from a different time [as the $13,995 price tag highlights] … and yes, some of the ‘features’ they mention were probably cutting edge back then [power steering for example] … but after you get past that epic headline, what you actually have is an ad that is just a list of product features.

While there are still nods to the sense of craftsmanship and technology within that list – for example, you can have a telephone as an optional extra – I can’t help but feel that all the romance the headline conjures up in your mind disappears once you get to the details.

Maybe that’s because it appears the strategy was not actually to communicate the sophistication and craftsmanship of the car, but to change the perception of it being only for the super-elite … the one’s who are chauffeured around rather than drive themselves.

Hey, I could be wrong, but the fact they use that hilarious image of a ‘Dad’ picking up the kids from the local shop after school – not to mention they state in the copy that you don’t need a chauffeur to drive it – means I might have a point.

Now I get I have no right to criticise the wonderful Mr Ogilvy and the fact this ad is continually referred to implies it was hugely successful … but when I was reminded what the actual ad looked like – rather than just hearing that headline – I couldn’t help feeing that I find this scam ad for Bentley far more appealing.

[Though I accept that just might be my Nottingham heritage shining through]



Taking The Piss. But In A Really Good Way …

Incontinence.

Yes, I’m going there.

It’s an issue that most brands in this category, approach with caution.

Actually scrap that, they approach it with clinical rationality.

Of course, some try and break the ‘taboo’ by doing something very different … but most of the time, it’s done more for the ad agencies ego than the good of the brand or audience.

However I recently saw an ad – even though it’s 2 years old, but they decided to re-run it during Donald Trump’s press conference yesterday [how’s that for once-in-a-lifetime blog relevance!] – that did it very differently but very well …

Sure, you could argue it’s a fusion between the old Heineken ‘Man Of The World’ ads … mixed with a dash of ‘The Most Interesting Man In The World’ campaign for Don Equis and a splash of Old Spice, but it’s bloody lovely.

Also bloody lovely is the line “I’m a man of a certain age” and the premise that “when you’re used to being in control it’s hard not to be”.

While some may say this sort of thing is easier when you have a client who makes a product that needs to stand out and break free from category stereotypes … my experience on brands most people would kill to work on, tells me that I bet this was still a challenge to pull off.

But they did pull it off and they did it with relevance to the product, category and audience … which is to be massively applauded.

It might not entirely break the taboo, but it might crack it …

Lovely insight. Lovely line. Lovely execution. Well done to all behind it.



A Kodak Moment Is Now An Embarrassing Moment …

Kodak.

A company that once was synonymous with photography that is now synonymous with failure.

There are a million stories detailing their demise, but fundamentally, it wasn’t because they couldn’t innovate [they were one of the pioneers of digital photography], they didn’t want to bring it to market because they didn’t want to kill their photographic developing business, even though that business was going to kill them if they continued with it.

But this post isn’t a bad history lesson, it’s about the new Kodak … the lean, mean, technology machine.

Have a look at this …

Yep, it’s the World’s first 360 degree action-camera with 4k picture detail.

OK, so you could say bringing out a device like this, years after GoPro blew-up the market, shows Kodak still have a habit of being late to change, but at least this time they are trying to offer a fundamentally better product than what is currently available – not to mention leveraging the 360 degree market, that seems to have come from nowhere.

But even that isn’t what this post is about.

No, what this is about is that based on this ad, Kodak still think it’s the 1980’s.

A few years ago, I wrote how one of GoPro’s strengths was how they were part of the culture they were making products for. This authenticity separated them from the countless other brands that tried to jump on the bandwagon – even when they had arguably better products.

Two years later and it seems some brands still haven’t grasped the importance of focusing on the culture, rather than the category.

Look at that ad. Look at it.

It’s fucking horrible.

If a photo of the London skyline from a bloody restaurant wasn’t bad enough [what the hell is ‘action cam’ about that???] … what about the utterly terrible shot of the product.

A brown square with a shitty dome on top.

It looks like a crap 1950’s robot toy that you’d find in a Kinder-Surprise.

What the hell were Kodak thinking?

And then there’s the product name and the font choice.

PIXPRO … using a stencil type font in a desperate bid to look cutting edge.

If your product is the ‘future’, you don’t need to use a shitty font because people will work it out for themselves. And even if you decide you absolutely, positively, desperately want to do it … my advice is to not use a font that is synonymous with the 1982!

And what’s that line … ‘Brings You Closer’.

What does it even mean?

Here is a product that gives you 360 degree views [which, arguably, they don’t even show in the ad] and they use that line.

Mind you, here is a product that gives you 360 degree views in 4k quality, and they don’t even help you understand what 4k quality means to the recipient.

There is so much they could do to make people want to know more – even using an old-school print ad – but no, they’ve gone for the worst advertising you could get.

Apparently the product is quite good … but sadly for Kodak, with a name that represents the past rather than the future and an ad that reinforces that perspective, I think the only view they’ll be seeing is their once great name growing smaller and smaller into the distance.



The Last Week Of 2016 …

OK, so the title of this post is wrong given we have almost 3 weeks left before it’s 2017, but this is going to be the last week for this blog because [1] I’m going to be in LA all week [be afraid George, Pete & Baz … be very afraid] and [2] I can’t be arsed to write anymore.

Frankly, I can’t believe how quick this year has gone. It’s been stupendously quick.

And yet, when I look back at the past 12 months, I see a lot has happened … and I’m not just talking about my holidays.

From Bowie dying.

The worst Toyota campaign in years.

My favourite quote of the year.

A time of self realisation.

My best friends penis. [Hey, it wouldn’t be this blog if I didn’t reference that]

The power of design.

My beloved Mum’s first anniversary.

The launch of The Kennedys in Shanghai.

[With updates on whats going on here]

My failed April fool.

A reminder of the importance of empathy.

The best Rock n’ Roll mash-up. Ever.

China showing that for all their progress, a lot of it is only on the surface … here and here.

How Cannes is bringing the worst out of adland.

My amazing June consisting of an amazing conference in Paris, my wife’s birthday and a phenomenal holiday in too many places.

An idea that should be celebrated for it’s humanity.

My argument about what the ad industry needs to do to be relevant to the next generation of creative class.

… and recognising what new creative talent actually is.

Parenting.

The importance of fearlessness.

Saying goodbye to a couple of people who were very important to me. But only goodbye in the ‘I’m leaving Wieden’ sense. Ros and Paula.

As you can see, there’s been a lot that’s happened.

OK, so some you may agree with, some you won’t … but it’s important [for me, at least] to see it because the speed this year has gone, it would be easy for me to convince myself nothing has happened.

Recently I read an interview with ex-Take That star, Robbie Williams, that kind of summed up my attitude to working.

I know … I know … it’s Robbie Williams, but the fact is I have always liked him.

I’ve liked his attitude and his honesty – even when he’s ended up being screwed over by what he said – but for me, his viewpoint that ‘if the brain stops working, it’s all over’ feels very relevant to me.

You may not believe it, you may say there’s a lot of evidence to challenge it … but it’s something that feels incredibly true to me.

So true that 2017 is going to see quite a few changes for me … all in a bid to make sure my brain remains energised and exercised so that I don’t need a blog post to remind me that my days have been filled with stuff that has been interesting and exciting.

But that stuff will be discussed later, so until then, enjoy the final 5 days of this blog in 2016.