Tag Archives: Creativity

In digital, we can’t make up our minds.

Although that’s not actually the case… I’ve been to many a mutually-beneficial meeting within which a bunch of like-minded digital aficionados have taken to agreeing relentlessly and mulling over the wonder of this massive medium.  To great effect.  But we do like to debate. 

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Celebrity

A while ago I questioned where all of the celebrities were in online advertising, the question still stands – where are they? Using celebrities is a number one tool in your marketing tool box for brand endorsement and attracting attention. If print, outdoor, radio and TV gets Cheryl Cole, why can’t we in display ads? Over to you L’Oreal.

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Video, your route into social networks

When we launched our Online Video
Guide
last week, I had hoped that one of the key messages to have twigged in
people’s minds was that video content is the one form of content that transcends
all internet barriers. It should be on marketers’ lists as a Top 3 method of
delivering a standardised brand message to audiences in social networks, on
email, on blogs, on standard web pages, dedicated video sites, even in search
results – basically anywhere on the internet.

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Take your web presence to the consumer using interactive display advertising

O2 has been using the below ad for a while now, so I’m guessing it must be quite effective, particularly as Orange has a similar ad too. It’s an application form for a free mobile sim card embedded into the Flash advert itself.

There is no landing page conversion because conversions happen in the advert without taking the user away from the page they’re looking at. This is so simple, but to me it’s a hallelujah moment for the industry.

Increasing adverts with creative interactivity and moving away from the need to always drive people to websites can be a good decision. If people are using a website or a social network, they don’t always want to leave that. Think about the purpose of your campaign – do consumers have to go to your website to fulfil that purpose? In O2’s case, the answer was no.

Interactivity is where the power of the internet lies over other forms of display advertising. While I’m not recommending every advert become a form or a microsite within an ad – the web would become a very boring place – it is the best solution for certain campaigns.

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Is it time for a new breed of online display advert?

Online display advertising has in the past been somewhat restricted by the speed of loading and the avoidance of disrupting the user experience. It has done well over the last decade even if for some marketers it is still one of the most underrated branding tools. When you compare the amount of the page space an internet advert dominates in comparison to a half, one or two page advert in print you can understand why this opinion exists.

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Skittles, famous for 15 days?

Skittles, famous for 15 minutes?

So yes, I’m jumping on a bandwagon and my title should get me on their feed when we announce this blog post on Twitter later today.  And obviously I’m mature enough to refrain from saying that they’re the root of all evil, taste of acid or that the old TV ads where the woman whispered ‘taste the rainbow’ at the end really made my skin crawl.  In fact (just as an aside) any TV ad that includes whispering of any kind immediately makes me want to throw up or cut off my own ears, and that includes ‘sexy’ talking that M&S are so proud of…
 
I decided to write this post because I think it’s been long enough since the initial flurry of media commentary to evaluate what I think is an excellent social media case study, and I’ve been wanting to talk about it for a while. I’m fully aware that I’m just one of thousands who are doing the same, and when IAB marketing director Kieron Matthews wrote about the application a couple of weeks ago, the response to it was incredibly mixed.  The terms ‘creative rip-off’ and ‘strategic failure’ were banded around simply because a similar idea had been executed before… which confuses me slightly.  Does this mean a brand’s own website is a creative rip-off?  And every time a brand launches a group on MySpace, or Facebook, should be criticised because people have been doing it for ages?  Should we disregard banners entirely because my God they are SUCH old news!?  And what about search, people have been doing it for years now, how totally dull!  (‘No’ is the answer to all those previous questions by the way, the IAB loves search and online display advertising, always has and always will!)
 
This constant quest for uncovering the ‘next big thing’, striving to come up with something completely new and conquering online’s unchartered territory is, quite frankly, what may be putting some brands off.  Why does there seem to be so much pressure to try something so creatively mindblowing and technologically advanced that no one has ever dreamt about before, let alone incorprated it into their marketing plans?  For those of us who work in digital 24/7, pushing those boundaries may seem like the only option, but for marketers who need to justify budgets and prove their return on investment in some way, maybe now is not the time to criticise brands who are learning from the work of others and adapting it to suit their own strategic objectives. 
 
And of course there was the big ‘hoo ha’ surrounding the comments people made on the various social media properties, which apparently meant the campaign was not a success.  Shock horror, someone said the word ‘c*nt!’  Because of course, any kind of bad language or negative response simply doesn’t exist in our wonderful little advertising bubble!  In my opinion not moderating or censoring the UGC was the best thing that Skittles could have done, and rather than resulting in a big old public relations mess, actually made them stand out as a brand that is happy to open its eyes and ears to exactly what normal human beings may say to each other from time to time.  Does anyone really believe that a statement such as ‘Hey! I love iced gems, this campaign was great so let’s all buy them!’ posted on some forum or other will actually have any impact whatsoever, whereas ‘Skittles: Eating one at a time or going for the full cheeked, teeth crinkling, power rush sensation?’ and ‘In business bored. William just handed me a skittles wrapper and said it was a fruit flavored condom. I’m worried.’ which I found on Twitter today, are a lot more authentic.
 
My point here is similar to previous points of mine, which is, why can’t we just applaud stuff that’s good!?  The fact is that this recent activity probably had about as much impact as a TV ad would: it made them famous for a while, plus it was more interesting and actually got people involved. The debate about whether it’s worked is ongoing, and some make the point that all these online conversations were about the nitty gritty of execution and inevitable reaction rather than the content itself. But at least there were conversations, which the Skittles brand had sparked and facilitated.  Do I like Skittles?  No, I hate the things, they taste horribly weird and are far too chewy.  But do I respect Skittles as a brand, maybe even like them a bit more? Most definitely.  What will be interesting now is how they sustain this chatter and keep consumers interested in the long-term.
 

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The green shoots of opportunity

 

Government ministers have, in the past, got into hot water for merely mentioning the words ‘green shoots’ when times are tough.  We all know the UK economy is officially in recession.  However, unlike Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, I won’t be talking the economy down.  I fear the wrath and another four-letter outburst from business secretary, Lord Mandelson, if I did so!  Times are indeed tough and every day we read and hear about another business shedding jobs.  Yesterday, Bradford-based Stylo, owner of Barratts shoes, announced it was closing 220 stores and cutting 2,500 jobs.

 

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The best night of my life!

Nike AKQAOr maybe one of the best nights I had this week, was yesterday’s Creative Showcase awards event, which we held in association with Microsoft Advertising (full review on the IAB site). And didn’t AKQA do well!  Not only did they win Agency of the Year for the most successes throughout 2008, but also the most Contagious Award for Fiat eco:drive, which “has a practical application for the real world, that can genuinely improve the lives of people that use it”.  They also won the Microsoft Advertising Most Innovative Campaign Award for their Nike Bootcamp work. 
 
Without being too OTT about my respect for AKQA - because this year’s entries were by the far the best we’d seen across the board - what makes them stand out, along with some great other agencies such as Lean Mean Fighting Machine, Agency Republic and AIS London, is their consistent uniqueness (for want of a better phrase!)  Having worked on these awards for four years now, we’ve certainly noticed that some agencies have tended to adopt an ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ kind of approach to their creativity.  This may work perfectly well if you have a client that’s happy to see pretty much the same campaign over and over again, but with a different strapline.  But what the bulk of this year’s winning campaigns have proven – including Orange and Poke’s beautiful online balloon race, which was awarded ‘Best Creative Campaign 2008′ – is that great digital work doesn’t need to follow a strict formula, and technology allows each campaign to be drastically different to the last.  In fact, I think you can definitely tell from the final execution, which agencies get most excited about a brief. 
 
Last night’s guest speaker, Alex Evans – one of the main men responsible for creating the PS3 game ‘Little Big Planet’ – was a real inspiration, because to see someone quite so passionate about creating something pretty and fun that consumers enjoy is incredibly refreshing.  He talked about the importance of the creative process, and that it’s essential that once you start creating that you invest your personality into it, because then you really care about the end result.  For him, this is why UGC and consumer interaction is so fundamental to success, because once people have created with you, or for you - even if it’s leaving a comment on a blog - then you’ve pretty much got them hooked.  With few exceptions, that is what’s driven those stand-out, respected and jealousy-inspiring campaigns that 2008 has seen.  Roll on next year!

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Digital Britain…kindly brought to you by advertising

Communications and Technology Minister, Stephen Carter, today finally published his eagerly awaited Digital Britain interim reportThe ‘talk’ and speculation in the run-up to publication had been about the BBC and public service broadcasting/publishing and ‘broadband for all’.  Would the Government suggest a collaboration between the commercial BBC Worldwide and cash-strapped Channel 4? (it does but doesn’t rule out other options) and will there be high-level commitments for broadband access? (there are). Despite criticism from opposition political parties that the 2Mbs universal broadband commitment is weak, it is a significant move.  It is also welcome that the report suggests unleashing mobile operators from spectrum licence agreements encouraging them to do their bit in delivering this commitment.  This could enable us to access content and services wherever, however and whenever.  The Government hasn’t ruled out giving public money to help this universal broadband commitment either.  The final report is due in the summer, but this interim document states the importance of online advertising to the UK digital economy: “Britain has the highest proportion of internet advertising than any developed economy”.  However it does seem to question its value to the digital economy and funding creative content.  Among the 22 recommendations within the 86-page interim report is an action to “examine measures needed to address the challenges for digital content, including opportunities for providing further support to foster UK creative ambition and alternative funding mechanisms to advertising revenues”. Online will soon be the largest advertising medium in the UK.  It pays for free content and services: from search engines to social networks.  It’s no surprise that the Government believes that a “successful Britain is a digital Britain”, playing a vital role in dragging the economy out of recession.  However, given this and our world-beating position in online advertising, it seems slightly bizarre that it remains to be convinced as to whether advertising is the right model for the digital age.  Nevertheless, the point of an interim report is for discussion and debate.  Clearly there’s plenty of this to do.

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Are we all talking gaga?

“Lady Gaga? Never heard of her” my mum said on the phone. Ten minutes later and I had an email from her entitled “Lady Gaga”, with the message “I searched for her website. I like her sound.”

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