Sunday, 11 May 2014

The subjectivity of the "Big Idea": The need for agencies to change.


There is no practical means to measure the big idea. It's subjective. Applying a size metric to an abstract concept is a little odd anyway. However, it is accepted parlance within the agency and marketing world, so accepting that the big idea exists, how do we know which ideas are "bigger" and hence deemed better, than others? 

In my humble opinion, we don't, unless we are brave enough to test, fail (but fail fast), learn and re-tune in order to succeed. Many agencies have tried and tested approaches and claim they do know which ideas will succeed, prior to going live. This maybe because of their "track record", their "process", their reputation and maybe even a degree of inflated self belief. However, the game has changed and changed significantly in the last few years; and what may have worked in the past, may not necessarily work today. 

In football (or any sport) a player and team are as good as their last game; systems are changed regularly to adopt to the situation; there is continual agility in order to maximise the chances of success. By contrast, in the agency world reputations and approaches tend to stick around for years, and this in a time where communications technology is constantly advancing, and being rapidly adopted by consumers/people. Unfortunately, this lack of agency evolution and agility, has led to mediocrity, poor results, and because of this new-world uncertainty, has caused businesses to become more risk adverse. That 30 second TVC format can no longer be trusted to be anywhere near as effective as it used to be. Big ideas are now selected by the agency because they think that is what their client will buy, as opposed to proposing the big idea that could actually deliver great results. This is a downward spiral (or helix to be accurate) and sustaining this legacy behaviour will see the agency industry continue its demise. 

The good news is, there are a select few agencies who are adopting new ways, they're prepared to be brave and are keen to attract similar like minded clients who share the same values. A recent
example of this is Wexley School for Girls, who are based in Seattle. They have recently issued a reverse RFI, inviting brands to apply to become their next client. Instead of the usual jumping through hoops approach, and costly pitch process that many businesses will have agencies jump through they have decided enough is enough. They believe in their own expertise and brand, and actually clients should be trying to attract them to help them with their marketing strategy. An admirable approach indeed, and I sincerely hope it works for them.

Similarly, some other agencies are destroying that baton passing briefing process. You know the approach, brief taken from client by suit, given to planner who passes to creative etc. where sometimes people with very little previous exposure to the product or category are asked to come up with the insight and idea (real-life examples I can immediately think of are the launch of a new femcare range and the planner responsible was mid 20's male; or the launch of a new prestige vehicle by a group of people who can't drive...take a look at the Ogilvy quote at the top.) that leads to a diluted and uninformed Chinese whisper interpretation of what the client wants, which may in fact be very different to what they really need....and usually disappoints both client and the agency themselves. Immersive approaches, embracing client and agency personnel working together is the way forward. Different experiences and expertise which can be shared and learned from. Brooklyn based, The Big Spaceship have been doing this for a while now, with great results.

They also believe creativity can come from anyone, and hence have no creative department or anyone with "creative" in their title. This is commendable. By taking this approach it eliminates the ownership, and dare I say "preciousness" of creativity of a specific group of people and in turn, eliminates the absolving of responsibility of those who don't have "creative" in their job title, when ideas don't turn out as everyone would like. Which, also emphasises that call to learn quickly, fail fast and go again....but better!


Of course, there is the need for clients to be willing to adopt this style of approach too; and quite clearly some just aren't quite ready to do so. That's absolutely fine of course, but the challenger brands within their own category, who are prepared to do this now, and find that like-minded agency will reap the benefits. That's why I believe some independent agencies in the UK will become more selective about who they choose to work with.

If there was a simple checklist that could be put together that could help agencies willing to adopt and adapt new ways, it'd probably be something like this:
  • Get the right people together, who are passionate about the topic, who have different experiences and skill sets. This includes client personnel
  • Tap into a crowd-source pool of research on consumer motivation and behaviour; the brand and the category. I'd encourage implicit research and action based data.
  • Allow time to do this properly
  • Match this with intuition; strike a blend between data and gut-feel
  • Stop crushing the ideas of young talent...give them the time and confidence to contribute
  • Be prepared to fail, ensure you fail fast and bake in a test and learn approach with contingencies.
An example, which is pure speculation on my part, but something I've seen across the London Underground is a recent Great Western campaign. It started with one angle, showcasing the employees of First Great Western (I'm a Great Westerner). These were short stories of what these people did to keep the trains running, and I was privy to a number of conversations which were detrimental to the positioning : "Who do they think they are?" "Isn't that their job?" etc. I personally felt a similar thing. However, I'm guessing again, but this negativity must have been detected by the agency (I believe McCann London) and the positioning was switched, from show casing employees, to how the investment in the line will help passengers (Building a Greater West). The latter being deemed more palatable to consumers. A less than subtle change, but a stronger delivery of message. Good to see this.

UPDATE: Looks like my speculation was completely wrong...and that's not a first. It would appear there was a plan behind this campaign, as there is a third tier. Inviting people to now become a Great Westerner. So the strategy went something like this; let's make heroes of the people who work for Great Western, then show how great the Greater West is due to the results of their work; and then finally an addition of inviting you to be like those heroes and become a Great Westerner...or more accurately, catch a train to Cornwall. Assumptions made in this approach is that people who want to travel by train to the Great West...will aspire to be like those who work for Great Western. Mmmm.







Monday, 27 January 2014

Beacons: Top 5 Facts & Myths #IoT

Having a bit of a tech background, I thought I'd dive into "Beacons". There appears to be many misconceptions, and most articles focus on how they will revolutionise the retail environment...crossing the virtual and real world. That maybe so, however, it is also worth thinking about other uses, the limit of which know no bounds and is only restricted by the human mind.

It's worth keeping in mind, that the beacons themselves are fairly dumb; they transmit their unique ID, and that's about it....the clever stuff comes with the listening device (typically a smartphone) and what that is connected to (application, database, analytics etc.) The mind then tends to run away with itself on the possibilities....retail:obvious, but medical records; military dog tags; advertising boards; bus stops; car keys; equipment maintenance and servicing; etc. etc.

Exciting times lie ahead.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The #Google Music Timeline: The job's not quite done!

A quite beautiful way of viewing and searching music genres and artist across a timeline. This is from Google research, but imagine if they applied this to your Apple iTunes or Spotify playlists. It's a really engaging way to view and explore any music catalogue. Take a look for yourself.


Drilling down by clicking into the genre of choice, displays sub genres and artists. This is a principle that could apply to any type of search...maybe that's what Google are thinking?



Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Inspiration for many of today's Motion Graphics & Infographics

Saul Bass, the master in setting the mood and feel for a film, through his iconic opening sequences. The distilling of a full length film and/or novel into a couple of minutes. No wonder his style influences many designers today, especially in the field of motion graphics. What I'm in awe of is, how do you do that?! How do you encapsulate the essence of a movie or book into an image; especially at a time when there was no "big data"; no scientific sub-conscious research to understand what others feel in order to help steer you?

 


And the "tip of the hat" from the Mad Men Producers




Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Hierarchy of Relevance: A Framework

The Hierarchy of Relevance

Some might say this is "very basic", however, it's a framework to achieve "super relevance" by the blending of "who" and "when" data. For the full article please visit the econsultancy blog.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The #Mobile Path to Purchase: "I Want It Now!"

Google & Nielsen's recent report on the Mobile Path to Purchase would indicate that many consumers using their smartphones and tablets maybe developing some Veruca Salt type characteristics. You know who you are! Pushing and shoving on The Tube and escalators. But it's not necessarily all the obnoxious or bad mannered tendencies that people are adopting, but the single minded need to get something quickly, once they know what they want. The speed of the customer journey is being accelerated, and the time between ZMOT through purchase, to experience can be pretty swift. The report has come up with 5 key findings as shown below.
The key thing is (which isn't covered in the report), people reach for their mobile device when they have time on their hands. When there is time to kill, whether it's waiting in a queue, waiting for someone to arrive, on the daily commute, bored in front of the telly at home etc. the default habit is to reach for the smartphone or tablet to search for things on your mind. This mindset means people will most probably take longer to research the things that they are interested in at that particular time, as well as act upon impulse of some form of nearby stimulus. If they are subsequently provided with a compelling and seamless user experience, the chances of "conversion" are increasing . Other stats that back the above points up include:


As you can see, the time or impulse of "I want it now!" and I want to get my hands on it quickly, so it has to be nearby is shown by the first two stats. The third stat indicates there is a level of channel hopping taking place, due to the time and geo-location combo. i.e. all the research and selection is done on the mobile, and then a quick visit to the closest location to purchase. Which is great....but of course poses a problem for the measurement and attribution modellers out there. In 2014, with iBeacon and mobile wallets becoming more widespread, this may make this attribution modelling a little easier to measure.

For those savvy organisations who enable mobile purchase and in-store pick up, it would appear people in the US and UK are becoming more confident with the amount they are prepared to spend via their mobile. The infographic below, put together by research from Intela, indicates the percentages and sums people are now spending....in 2013, people in the US were more confident that people in the UK to purchase via their smartphone, but less responsive to mobile advertising. If the UK follows this trend in 2014, there will be a need for organisations to ensure their advertising is extremely relevant; right people, right time and right place...or use external stimuli to trigger the necessary search behaviour. A multi-channel strategy is key.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Saturday, 5 October 2013

"The Bloody Tower renamed for marketing purposes": Funny & Insightful

Typical British Army humour, peppered with interesting facts. I especially enjoyed the Royal Marines references.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

This is what is wrong with #SocialMedia. It's Anti-social.

Maybe it's time to "relearn" how to enjoy real quality time together?

Friday, 5 July 2013

“I was there!”…virtually #BritFuture: The behavioural impact of mobiles at gigs

The Future Of Britain“I was there!”…virtually. A post written for The Future Of Britain blog. Those lights on the picture aren't cameras flashing, they're smartphone screens recording the moment. People watching a gig, through their gadgets means they are one step removed, slightly disassociated, and therefore cannot be fully immersed in the moment. Put your phones down!