Desperation driving ad creativity

Delayed viewing

How do you address the clear trend of people not paying attention to your ad during the commercial breaks on TV? They’re either not watching at all during the breaks, or fast-forwarding through the ads if their programme is recorded; or, giving their attention to something else on a second or third screen.

For whatever reason, people aren’t glued exclusively to their TV screens as they used to be in those golden days of yore.

With so much competing for our attention today, there’s plenty of imagination and creativity at work designed to capture our imaginations so that we do give our attention to those visual commercial messages on our TV screens.

There are idea-shifts afoot as well with the advent of news ways of spreading commercial messages via social channels that might only have made it to the broadcast-TV screen before, if at all.

And then there are ideas that look like methods to drag you back into the days of singular attention and the command and control approach to grabbing eyeballs.

Volkswagen, for instance. The German car maker has applied some genuine imagination to a TV commercial in Belgium but for all the wrong reasons.

Rather than capture the viewer’s imagination with an advertisement that tells a compelling brand story in itself, thus enabling the viewer to decide whether to give his or her attention to it or not, VW’s ad agency DDB Belgium came up with a wheeze they call the ‘slowmercial.’

As PSFK reports, the ad for the new Volkswagen Beetle convertible is designed to target people who skip the ads or fast-forward them:

[…] Viewers of live television will see this ad and explanation, but those who watch it later and fast-forward will still see the top roll down, but at a faster pace, thus taking in the message just the same. The ad will run during Belgium’s most popular and frequently recorded shows such as Homeland and Bones.

The commercial claims that 50% more people will take in the advertising with a slowmercial, and if it is the case, it could be the way to proceed for advertisers in the world of fast-forwarding.

Here’s the ad – see what you think:

(If you don’t see the video embedded above, watch it at YouTube.)

While the concept itself is imaginative, undoubtedly, I think this smacks of gimmickry that’s absent a story to tell. You can’t force people to watch your messages, that’s not how it works any more. You have to offer them a good reason to watch. Even product placement ideas such as the one that adds virtual products to a video recording won’t survive the authenticity and trust tests in the long term if you really are looking to engage with your consumers.

So I just can’t see ideas like these as long-term survivors. Unlike some crazy-sounding ideas such as the 5-second spot. Now that one will be a survivor.

(Via Nick Allen and Antony Mayfield)

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The habits of UK mobile Twitter users

Twitter mobile UK

I use Twitter a great deal on a mobile device, not only when out and about but also in pastime situations such as tweeting comments about a movie or TV show I’m watching, or commenting about a brand in a TV ad.

That’s the so-called second screen behaviour and experience in action.

It’s increasingly common behaviour according to some new metrics about mobile use of Twitter in the UK, published yesterday by Twitter.

Indeed, UK tweeters love tweeting on a mobile device according to Twitter. Their numbers show that 80 percent of the over 10 million Twitter users in the UK do.

While the metrics Twitter published don’t go into much detail about who was surveyed, and how many, or the methodology – only referencing “a panel of internet users” who answered questions about their use of Twitter “and other services” – the figures are worth a look as they offer some insight into current Twitter mobile usage in this country.

All the data is included in an infographic (see it below).

Here are some of the metrics that caught my eye that will likely be of interest to communicators and marketers (I’ve added some comments in parentheses here and there):

  • 80 percent of UK users access Twitter via a mobile device.
  • Mobile users are 40 percent more likely than the average user to access Twitter more than once a day.
  • 66 percent of mobile users use Twitter at home in front of the TV.
  • One in four mobile users (that’s 25 percent of them) use Twitter while shopping (one growth driver undoubtedly would be the increasing availability of free wifi in supermarkets, shops and other public places).
  • 31 percent of users tweet a photo they’ve taken (one of my favourite activities: I post photos a lot to Instagram, which also tweets them as well as posts a link to Facebook and Flickr).
  • 67 percent of mobile users follow brands on Twitter.
  • 50 percent follow a brand for customer service (making it so easy to tweet on the fly, increasing the likelihood of commenting on Twitter, meaning those in customer service needs to keep paying attention all the time).
  • 45 percent are likely to recommend the brand they follow.

See the full details in the infographic below (which you can also download as a PDF from Twitter):

Twitter mobile UK infographic

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Getting a grip on the lurching crisis at the BBC

georgeentwistleWatching events this weekend that make up the still-unfolding crisis at the BBC has been an experience of mixed emotions, ranging from bewilderment to despair to resignation (in two senses of that word).

Much of that surrounds the (now ex) Director-General George Entwistle, pictured, an honourable man whose short tenure in the job did little that demonstrated that BBC leadership had a firm grip on matters.

At the heart of this crisis right now are two specific investigations:

  1. A police-led criminal investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by the deceased BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile – and possibly (probably) BBC staff and others – since the 1950s that burst into public light in October following the broadcast of an investigative report by ITV’s current affairs programme Exposure. That followed a BBC editorial decision not to go ahead with its own investigative report on the BBC’s Newsnight current affairs programme.
  2. An investigation into allegations of child abuse in north Wales children’s homes in the 1970s and 1980s, ordered by the Prime Minister, following broadcast of a BBC Newsnight programme on November 2 that alleged involvement by a prominent Conservative MP from the 1980s; he wasn’t named in the programme but his identity subsequently emerged. He denies such allegations and there’s a lot of talk about legal action against the BBC.

See these two Wikipedia entries for detailed accounts of these awful events:

In the midst of this poisonous mixture has been mounting criticism and questions over the leadership of the BBC, how the editorial processes and procedures work, even the very structure and future of the organization as an independent public service broadcaster.

All of that came to a head on Saturday evening when the Director-General George Entwistle resigned in the face of insistent criticisms of his leadership and growing calls for his resignation. He’s been replaced in the interim by Tim Davie, a BBC man with a marketing background who’s due to be CEO of BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial enterprise, on December 1 – less than three weeks’ away.

What seems to have been the final straw for Entwistle was his disastrous performance in a 15-minute interview on the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs radio show Today on Saturday morning.

The interviewer was the show’s co-host John Humphrys, a veteran journalist with a reputation as one who takes no prisoners in his hand-to-hand combat style of interviewing on live radio he brings to bear at times, especially with politicians and business leaders – and it was on full display on Saturday morning.

I listened to the interview and it was a painful experience. It became clear to me, if it hadn’t already, that George Entwistle – an honourable and decent man, facts of which I have no doubt – was woefully out of his depth. Not only in participating in an interview of this type but also on the fundamental and far more critical issue of leadership and knowing what was going on – and with the latter, it became clear he didn’t seem to know much.

As I listened, I wondered how on earth the man at the top of this organization could come to such an important interview so seemingly unprepared. My thoughts focused on a specific aspect of Entwistle’s leadership behaviour, all to do with his apparent detachment from fast-moving events.

Take this segment, for instance, from the transcript of the interview, in which Humphry’s asks Entwistle when he knew about the north Wales abuse report and whether he’d seen a tweet that was posted before the programme was broadcast, which flagged up that it would be making some serious allegations:

[Read more...]

Olympic benefits for corporate reputations


The past two weeks of the London 2012 Olympic Games have certainly been a time of drama, high emotion, success and failure, and a general lifting of the spirits to witness such displays of intense effort and much achievement by athletes from over 100 countries.

The positive focus on this wonderful sporting event has just about excluded any other news from anyone’s attention as our TV screens, newspapers and favourite social networks have given us so much to consume, share and interact with over all that’s good about humanity and society.

It’s as if we know reality will resume this coming Monday, so let’s make the most of it!

You could apply similar thinking about a corporation or a brand from being associated with such goodness, where such a groundswell of positive feeling and perception rubs off on that corporation or brand.

As marketing intelligence company Warc reports, that’s exactly what’s happening with regard to Visa, BP and Acer – three of the main sponsors of the 2012 Olympic Games – which have recorded the greatest uptick in buzz among US consumers, citing new figures from the YouGov research firm.

[...] Visa, the financial services provider, registered the largest improvement on this metric, as its index score rose from 8.2 points before the competition to 22.7 points once it began on July 27.

Second place in the YouGov rankings went to BP, the oil firm, which has been tackling negative perceptions ever since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. Its total climbed from –5.9 points to 2.6 points, an 8.5-point lift.

Acer, the IT group, took third, improving by 5.1 points to 8.9 points overall.

Warc’s report adds that Coca-Cola, the soft drinks maker, accrued an additional 3.5 points, taking it to 24 points in all. McDonald’s, the fast food network, was also up by 2.3 points to 16.1 points.

BP’s rise is especially impressive, given the still-ongoing reputational challenges the energy giant faces following the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

I think a key element in the success of BP and the others Warc mentions is how such corporate sponsors have been presenting their corporate selves and brands’ association  with the Olympics in TV and other advertising.

Take Visa’s example of explaining the economic value they say will result for London and the UK in general, following the games, as shown in this infographic (a portion of which you see at the top of this page).

In TV advertising, BP’s a good example of how a public perception of selflessness is positive, such as in this corporate spot shown on US television a few months ago focusing on athletes and their potential to win, with next to nothing said about BP’s business.

(If you don’t see the video embedded here, watch it on YouTube.)

BP has been showing similar-focused ads on TV in the UK.

YouGov’s concise report makes good reading as it adds commentary to the numbers including the other brands covered in the latest research – see the chart here (and check the three sponsors showing less buzz in the US than before).


Public opinion is a fickle thing, to be sure, but Visa, BP, Acer and others show that public relations benefits on reputation can result if you get it right. I wonder what such research would show for buzz about all these sponsors in the UK.

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The people and social media challenges at the 2012 Olympic Games


Reuters reports that Anthony Edgar, head of media operations for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), freely admits that he does not know what to expect at the London Olympic Games following the explosion of social media, with some 900 million people using Facebook in 2012 compared to the 100 million who used the site just four years ago at the time of the Beijing Games.

“Yes you can’t hold a camera when you’re running down the 100 meter straight and do an exclusive broadcast. That’s for the broadcasters,” he told Reuters in an interview. “But you can certainly talk about it. You can certainly take photos of it. And you can certainly write about it.

“We’re having to deal with things now that didn’t exist in Beijing, with a voice that wasn’t so loud in Beijing. Everyone is allowed to film who goes into a venue … but it’s for personal use only.”

[...] Fans inside a stadium will be allowed to use their smartphones to film Usain Bolt on the track or Michael Phelps in the pool, but they will not be allowed to upload it to Facebook in a ruling that may surprise many tech-savvy fans who now upload clips on a regular basis.

I can imagine a near-impossible task in policing that latter restriction. What will officials do at an Olympic venue when hundreds if not thousands of spectators are busy with their mobile devices uploading stuff? Manually try and prevent it? Not a chance. Turn off the networks? Hmm, good luck with that idea – someone tried something similar in the US last year, which didn’t really work.

As some are predicting data traffic of 60Gb a second at the Olympic Park primary venue in east London – equal to about 3,000 photos – here, concisely, is what I think we can expect:

  1. Anyone with a mobile device and a network connection will be using it, no matter what, to spontaneously share their text, audio and visual opinions of what they experience at an Olympics event.
  2. Athletes are people like anyone else, and want to share too.
  3. Everyone else, wherever they are – at home watching TV, in a pub, the office, on a bus or train or wherever – will want to do the same.
  4. If anyone can’t get online to share because of no network connection, they’ll do that whenever they can get online.

An IOC member reportedly told the BBC recently that “the Olympics is one of the oldest social networks that has ever been.”

In that case, I hope a pragmatic and common sense approach is adopted by the so-called ‘brand police’ with regard to such sharing – even after reading what the Olympic organizers have published about brand protection during London 2012.

Organizers, please do go after the ambush marketers and the thieves of intellectual property, but please let go of control and don’t smother free expression by everyone else, whose words and pictures will measurably add to and enrich the Olympics’ overall record.

And above all, notwithstanding the comedy of errors characterized by concerns about security and more during recent weeks, let’s just enjoy the amazing spectacle of these Olympic Games, wherever we are!

[Updated 22/7/12] ] The BBC reports IOC president Jacques Rogge as saying that “common sense will prevail” on enforcing protection of sponsors.

[...] Asked about the policing of sponsorship, the IOC president said Locog would take a “subtle approach” to sponsorship and individual cases would not be pursued with the police.

“But if there is really blatant intent of ambush marketing by another company or by a group of people with commercial views then of course we will intervene.

“If you have the T-shirt of a competitor of one of our sponsors we will not intervene,” he said. “So common sense will prevail and Locog will work with commonsense.”

Under IOC rules, tier one “worldwide partners” – such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola – get sole global marketing rights within their sector, including being able to sell their products and services exclusively within Olympic venues.

Locog on Friday said only large groups of spectators wearing “visibly branded” clothing were at risk of being banned from Olympic venues.

Also, see some specifics on what the IOC has planned for its own proactive use of social tools and channels: Olympics committee gets its social media game on with Tumblr, Instagram integration.

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