Search This Blog


Friday, 1 August 2014

Is there a minimum for EFTPOS here?

I don’t know about you, but I am getting really tired of the ‘minimum charge’ to use my credit or debit card as a form of payment at all my favourite places. And one day I really got down to thinking… “There’s no way the fees to use EFTPOS require vendors to charge upwards of $10.00AUD per transaction.” EFTPOS stands for Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale, and I suspect it is being used as a more important tool for businesses then merely a new payment method channel.

There has to be some marketing or business objective being fulfilled by creating a minimum charge for transactions. I think it is as simple as businesses trying to make more money per transaction by requiring you to make add-ons in order to get what you came for. Without even digging deep or asking around, it is pretty common knowledge that most people would prefer to carry their plastic now instead of trying to find an ATM to withdraw cash – but are we overspending because of this new habit?

Lucky for us customers, certain banks like Commonwealth Bank explicitly state in contracts with their EFTPOS terminal renters that they are not allowed to charge a minimum payment. However, even if other banks don’t have the same clause in their contracts, the terminals cost around $60.00AUD per month to operate, which isn’t that much, even for small businesses, and could further increase their sales by offering the option of paying electronically.

Below is another example of electronic payments that may be taking place more frequently in the future, provided by a company called Square. This little iPhone or iPad device is a one time purchase with a small transaction fee that may make secure electronic payments more accessible to all vendors. This company uses offline transactions to process payments and later downloads to a server for record.

Even with a few new options on the market, the next time I am faced with a minimum transaction rate, I will probably take my business elsewhere at risk of certain vendors just trying to make money off add-ons.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Welcome to our New Students

Last Thursday afternoon we gathered at the University of Sydney Business School to welcome our newest students to the course. The evening began with a short introduction by Pennie Frow, Course Coordinator, and Ellen Garbarino, Chair of the Discipline of Marketing, followed by brief speeches by current students Duncan Bell and Marco Tomaselli.

As the evening wore on, and we all got better acquainted, it was great to see a very diverse group joining our existing cohort. We have students coming from China, Germany, France and the Philippines (among many other nations), and with varied academic and industry backgrounds. So in a bid to make the transition for our new students much smoother, this evening was also the inauguration of the very first ‘Buddy Program’ – an initiative involving current students providing ongoing assistance to the new cohort during the first few weeks of this semester.

Christine Drpich and myself, in particular, look forward to seeing how this program pans out as classes begin, and we hope that our new students find it beneficial. As mentioned on the night, a great advantage of the Master of Marketing course is that every student has unique experiences and skills to bring to the classroom, so it is very important that we all understand from the beginning what we can learn from each other, as much as from the material and lecturers in the course.

So although we’re soon to say goodbye to some of our existing cohort who are reaching the end of their Master of Marketing degree, we look forward to getting to know our new students, and seeing them in the classes that begin this week.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 25 July 2014

And so the trending continues…

Out of all the travelling I’ve done, one of the most notable things I’ve seen has been the excessive amount of airplane or ‘flying pictures’ people post on the internet of the beautiful views from above. That being said, you’d wonder why some airlines haven’t been quicker to put their logos on the wing of the plane somewhere, as seen below in the Qantas and Delta shots:

        Qantas Arriving in Sydney, Australia                                        Delta Departing Bermuda, UK

The fact that these two major airlines don’t have logos on their plane wing tips is shocking because of all the Instagram, Twitter, and now even Facebook, photos people post that include trends, locations and tags. To run a campaign the same size as all this free advertising could otherwise have amounted to millions of dollars worth of promotional spend. So how can these airlines be more effective through the various social media channels mentioned above?

First of all, other airlines should consider RyanAir and Southwest Airlines. Below you can see the effectiveness of their wing tip advertising when a picture is captured of a rare view from above, even when the full logo isn’t in the picture! These airlines chose to spend money on applying additional paint to the wing tips of their aircrafts specifically to become a part of these unique shots. Passengers are now also seeing more full body paint jobs on planes, such as Southwest’s orca wale that regularly flies into Orlando, FL, USA.

Departing Costa Brava, Spain                                            Departing Albuquerque, NM, USA

These pictures often lead to posts containing trends such as #ryanair, #southwest, #viewfromabove, #amazingtrip, #jetsetter, #flying, and many more. When the airlines’ name is used in the hashtag or trend line for a photo, they all get collected on the same newsfeed for that channel of social media. The more trends a brand creates, the more popular it becomes; and if you’ve read previous articles on the Marketing Matters Blog, you’d realize just how crucial internet reviews and trends are in shaping future travellers decisions.

My only question now is to the airline marketing executives: how are you going to become part of these spectacular moments? Whether or not we’re allowed to use our phones during take off or landing, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these photos.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hashtag Marketing is in Vogue

In my last post I mentioned Virgin Australia’s newest campaign, which features a social media initiative involving, the hashtag #mealforameal. In an effort to capitalise on the growing activity on social media platforms such as Instagram, Virgin aimed to engage customers in a more personal, and more importantly, traceable way. Each time someone updates their social media accounts using this hashtag, Virgin is most likely able to view the post, and thus catalogue their engagement with the campaign.

Although using hashtags within tactical digital marketing strategies is becoming quite common, they have yet to really be used on a greater, and more mainstream scale – well until now anyway. Earlier this year for example, Calvin Klein launched a #mycalvins social media campaign encouraging their key influencers (bloggers and celebrities) and fans, to post pictures of themselves in their CK underwear. According to Fashionista, over 6 million social media users used this hashtag, and the campaign engaged over 200 million fans across 23 countries.

Given the success of this initial digital campaign, Calvin Klein’s latest campaign images (as seen below) features the hashtag, #mycalvins, much more prominently than the brand’s own name.

Source: (mulheresnofd)

As these images are likely to appear in print, digital and offline spaces, Calvin Klein is perhaps leading the way for a digital revolution of mainstream advertising. Although QR codes have been around for a little while, with many billboards and product packaging featuring these codes, there are notable barriers to customers scanning these codes, and thus engaging with these campaigns. The use of a hashtag, in comparison, simply requires an active social media account, and is able to be used across almost all social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and more recently, Facebook).

Whether Calvin Klein’s newest campaign will translate into sales, and an even higher rate of customer engagement, is yet to be seen. However, given the success of their previous efforts, it is no surprise that going digital is a strategy they are dedicated to see through in their campaigns.

Although I’m not an enthusiast for the excessive use of hashtags, it’s clear that they’re certainly having a ‘moment’. Only time will tell whether we’ve got another fad on our hands, but until then, hashtags are here to stay and are undeniably the newest stars of the advertising world.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 18 July 2014

Tourism: ‘Word of Mouth’ and Review Advertisements

As our July winter holiday comes to a close after next week, I’m sure we’re all going to be missing our warm tropical getaways; but we’re also going to be telling absolutely everyone about our travels! These vacation recaps with our friends may truly be where companies in the tourism industry make their money, because you don’t want anything but the best on your next trip.

It is crucial for tourism companies to have honest reviews on the internet because it can seriously effect other guests’ experiences. But have you ever heard of a company actually being honest about the type of advertisement they want from you? It was actually quite a surprise to be asked to participate in a ‘word of mouth’ campaign when the friendly crew aboard the Reef Experiences cruise in Cairns, QLD asked us to go “tell all your friends about the great time you had!”

Well guys, here’s your advertisement! It was extremely effective to be honest and tells us tourists what you want us to do; other companies would have put a logo on every photo, or made you jump through hoops just to get a 5% discount on a food voucher or something. This family owned business really operates with sincerity and it shows through their services, their crew and the safety of guests.

Additionally, even when there isn’t any ‘word of mouth’ advertising taking place, the internet and trip advisor act as a second opinion, and a very prominent one. ‘Word of mouth’ advertising is aided by the reviews because now you don’t have to know the person to find any information you want, instead, it is all in one place where you can sift through many experiences.

So the next time you get asked to fill out a survey to get a discount or end up with a silly logo in the bottom of your overpriced photos, remember this company and the honesty that’s required to have a successful following through ‘word of mouth’ advertisement.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Virgin Mobile Australia – ‘Making Mobile Better’ Ad

Although yet to go live (it’s part of a three month campaign that begins this week), Virgin Australia will be launching a new national campaign targeting ‘anti-social’ mobile phone behaviour. Fronted by American actress Jane Lynch (of Glee fame), the first campaign ad shows Lynch poking fun at the activities that many people are guilty of using their phone for; including taking ‘selfies’, texting in the company of friends or during meals, and generally playing with their phones when they should be paying attention to what’s happening in front of them in the real world.

I will admit that I found the first ad by itself not that convincing, but after further research into the campaign, it turns out that part of Virgin’s efforts in ‘making mobile better’ is that they will donate to a food rescue service (OzHarvest) every time someone posts a picture of their food on social media using the hashtag #mealforameal. Aside from benefiting a great case, the campaign attempts to tap into some of the rising consumer trends in mobile phone use, and attempts to leverage them into positive actions. So instead of just ‘sharing’ a picture of your meal with your followers on social media, through Virgin’s campaign, you can now share a meal with someone who is in actual need of it.

It will be interesting to see how this campaign performs over the next three months, and given its feel good nature, I’m inclined to hope it does well – not only for Virgin, but also for OzHarvest, which annually feeds around 2 million Australians relying on food relief. We’ll be sure to come back to this campaign as it rolls out, but in the meantime, let me go get my phone and share something that will actually matter!

Find out more about the 'Making Mobile Better' campaign.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 11 July 2014

Watch what you say…

Cat got your tongue? No, no, no….that’s not quite right. CAUGHT RED HANDED: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines trying to make a sassy tweet that has since caused some serious backlash in one of the countries they service daily. Being the oldest airline in the world, still operating under its original name, having obtained that name from the Dutch Royal Air force, you think they would have known better….

Based on the screenshot of the tweet seen above, clearly they didn’t know any better; especially with the addition of the sombrero and moustache to the departure sign. It’s one thing for two countries to stir up some serious rivalry in the FIFA World Cup, especially when one gets eliminated in a very emotional penalty kick round, but bad sportsmanship is distasteful. And, bad sportsmanship that could affect all of their marketing efforts, prestige, and reputation, is even worse.

It’s well understood that airlines are often major financial supporters to their nationally and internationally represented teams, however, sometimes it is best to know when to keep your thoughts to yourself. The Dutch airline already has some harsh reputations and stereotypes of their own to overcome ever since their involvement in the collision at Tenerife in 1977. It was a well-known conclusion to the investigation that some ignorance in the cockpit might have been to blame for the miscommunication, and some people out there may attribute that ignorance to a cultural attribute.

Having a very close personal relationship to the airline and its operations, this news was kind of shocking. I wouldn’t have pegged them to be so inconsiderate in their social media presence. Their marketing and reputation comes from what is supposed to be one of the more thorough and long-term oriented marketing plans, especially since it involves a tight relationship with other SkyTeam partners. You can say sorry all you want, but when you make fun of stereotypes that hit an emotional chord, it’s going to be pretty hard to forgive and forget – especially when you need business to keep your operations afloat.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

SMS Mentoring Program 2014 – Launch Event

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to visit the University of Sydney Business School CBD Campus for the launch event of the Sydney Marketing Society’s 2014 Winter Mentoring Program.

The Sydney Marketing Society (SMS) is a not for profit student society based at the University of Sydney that looks to connect talented young marketers with leading employers in the marketing sector. The Mentoring Program is a recently launched initiative by the society, currently in its second year, which matches student mentees with mentors from the industry. The aim of the program is to provide students with an opportunity to gain an insight into the real working environments of their mentors, as well as build strong professional networks during their studies.

As a Master of Marketing student with a background in accounting, my exposure to the marketing industry has been very minimal to date. I was therefore very eager to participate in SMS’s mentoring program, as it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the industry, and seek guidance from someone who has been working in a field of Marketing (digital) that is of great interest to me.

Since having met my mentor, I am greatly looking forward to the next 8 weeks of the program, within which I will be visiting his place of work, possibly shadowing someone from his company for a day, and learning as much as I can within this timeframe!

I am aware that a few other students from our course are also participating in this year’s mentoring program, so watch this space for further updates on our progress in the program, and our thoughts on this experience.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 4 July 2014

Deception Studies

All over the internet you’ll find everyone is just discovering a deception study conducted by Facebook in 2012 in conjunction with Cornell University and the University of California, San Francisco. As a previous psychology student, this is nothing out of the ordinary, and to be honest, you can’t be mad about what information gets used from the internet because you choose to put that content out there, especially on Facebook.

The procedure of the study basically included shifting certain internet codes associated with designing newsfeed posts specific to every Facebook user. This was done for the purpose of studying emotions associated with positive or negative posts by an individuals’ friends. The point was then to see if the individual being studied would make his or her own positive or negative posts based on the tone of their friends posts. This is a typical psychological deception study, minus the preliminary consent for a non-harmful study and a post-study debrief.

Although many people are only finding out about the study two years later, and many people are angry, Facebook has seemingly abided by all the policies agreed to by users upon activating their Facebook accounts (yes, they probably had good lawyers write their terms and conditions of use). This shouldn’t be alarming to users because it would be important information for psychologists to understand about human behaviour and internet usage patterns. Additionally, you can manipulate the items you see on your own newsfeed by making certain page views or privacy settings; its not like Facebook actually manipulated any of the content that was posted by any of its users who merely saw certain emotionally charged content posted by Facebook friends.

From a marketing perspective, it is always important to understand your clients’ behaviours in order to better accommodate them and make changes based on those behaviours. Additionally, in order for Facebook to write better algorithms and internet coding for its Facebook accounts and users, they need to figure out what users like, and what will better predict their behaviours, needs, and wants, as well as who they follow and what they will post because of that. Managing content and connections are all part of the important information Facebook needs to continually improve. Facebook users, don’t be afraid, they’re just trying to understand you better.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A New Realm in Digital Advertising – VidCon 2014

Young content creators at the YouTube convention VidCon  (Source: Los Angeles Times)

As someone who has created popular content on YouTube in the past, I am always keeping tabs on the changes in the landscape of this online community. Over the past few years, one of the notable differences that I’ve observed (as both a creator, and viewer) is the number of blue chip brands (Coke, Veet, Revlon etc) sponsoring the videos of big name YouTubers.

For years, brands have been sending Internet bloggers free products in a bid for them to eventually talk about (and review) them in a blog or vlog post. However, it’s only recently that they have been investing what I assume to be big money in actually requesting a YouTuber to dedicate a whole video to their brand – either demonstrating the use of their product, reviewing it, or even just conveying the brand’s message to their viewers. Part of what makes it so worthwhile for the brands involved is that they have direct access to an existing community of viewers that have similar, or all the characteristics of their target market.

It is therefore no surprise that CNBC reports that YouTube invited over 100 brands to attend its annual online video convention, Vidcon, over the weekend. This is apparently the first time that such a large number of brands have become directly involved with this convention, with the likes of Kia, Penguin Books, Cannon, Taco Bell and even Samsung sponsoring the event. And with over 18,000 fans, and some of YouTube’s biggest creators in attendance, it is no doubt becoming an important, and almost necessary platform for brands to connect with the new wave of influencers and opinion leaders in digital media.

Attendees at VidCon interacting with Cannon photography equipment (Source: Los Angeles Times)

As mentioned in the same CNBC article, Fullscreen (a company managing YouTube talent and advertisers) CEO George Strompoloss is noted as saying that “brands are creators too. The brands want to create more content to touch consumers, and ultimately want to find ways to reach audiences, and particularly young audiences.” What brands seem to be recognising is that younger generations are engaging less with traditional touch points such as TV, or magazine advertising, and instead are curating their own viewing content on platforms like YouTube.

In saying that, although there is great opportunity for brands to connect with consumers through this platform, they still need to understand that part of the appeal of YouTube is the control viewers have in choosing, and viewing content they are interested in. When brands start to interrupt the viewing experience of these consumers, especially by directly sponsoring video content, there is a chance that it may actually disgruntle viewers, instead of inspiring them.

So the real challenge for brands interested in this new advertising activity, and in YouTube advertising as a whole, is to create relevant and interesting content that viewers don’t mind being interrupted to watch. Whether it is extremely engaging ads being played before a video, or sponsoring content that viewers will have a genuine interest in learning about – the opportunities are endless, and no doubt the world’s biggest brands are starting to see this.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 27 June 2014

The little things

It’s always important when travelling to remember the phrase, “It’s not wrong, it’s just different.” However, with some of life’s little efficiencies that follow, there’s not a thought of it being wrong, and you may wonder why you haven’t seen it before. Having been travelling in Southeast Asia for almost a month now, and conducting various research, I have come across some marketing miracles along the way.

First, I was extremely impressed by the electronic key bracelets that most hotels have implemented, as seen below. With this tool they have most likely eliminated their plastic key consumption, lost or stolen room key problems, and various waste throughout their supply and disposal channels (in addition to the disposal channels where lost cards do end up). These fashionable bracelet keys solve further problems facing guests such as door lock battery failures since they can be simply magnetized and don’t necessarily need a battery. The hotels using these keys are also saving work for themselves by keeping the keys and not having to remagnetise them every time for a new room. They also no longer have to open rooms for guests who lost their keys, and are able to easily identify guests of the hotel for security reasons. The bracelets slip on and off and are easily hidden by a sleeve if they don’t match your outfit.

Another interesting concept, which I am extremely curious as to why it hasn’t been implemented in almost every hospitality institution, is the service call button. Similar to the button above your seat on an airplane, many Asian countries have service buttons on your restaurant table in hopes of improving your service. This eliminates waiting times, keeps staff from bothering customers, and creates ordering efficiencies. This drastically improves customer satisfaction, as it give customers the choice of when to place their order, while staff was busy making other orders or cleaning the area, etc. A potential problem here could be that staff members take too long to reach your table, but if the venue is correctly staffed for its size and amount of customers, this response time can be easily managed. If venues want to improve their customer response ratings and reviews on the internet, this might be a good option.

To me, these two small tricks to make your life easier are marketing geniuses, because sometimes, it’s the smallest thing that can make or break your experience at a place; especially when you’re travelling or working abroad.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Master of Marketing Students visit Landor Associates

A few weeks ago, several students from the Master of Marketing course, including myself, were given the opportunity to visit Landor Associates’ Sydney Office, and hear about their unique approach to branding. Putting aside the breath-taking view from their office (as seen above), it was a truly insightful experience, and a great opportunity to ask industry specific questions and gain both an international and local perspective on the branding agency landscape (Landor currently has 21 offices across 16 countries).

Following our initial visit to Landor, we were then asked to participate in a research challenge, for which we would need to come back and present our findings to the Landor team. Splitting into two separate groups, we spent a period of two weeks gathering information and putting together our findings, culminating in an hour-long presentation (each group) for the people at Landor.

Although we can’t share exactly what we worked on, the team at Landor were extremely pleased with what we had presented, and in return provided us with really positive and constructive feedback.

For more information about their agency, and their creative approach to branding, you can visit Landor online.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Global Takeover – Airbnb

If you haven’t heard of Airbnb, the bad news is that you’ve probably been living in a cave for the last couple of years. The good news is that now, thanks to this company, you may actually find someone who is interested in renting your cave.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen a massive shift in the way that the hotel industry does business. From the birth of review sites like Trip advisor in the early 2000s, to the explosion of social media in the mid 2000s, the commodification of customer data has disrupted the type of influence that big name hotel brands usually yield. Airbnb, therefore, has taken this form of disruption to a whole new level.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb is as a digital marketplace that allows any user to rent out their accommodation for a specified time and price. By providing this universal platform, the company has essentially decentralised hotel accommodation by shifting power away from hotel chains to anyone with a spare room; effectively allowing everyone to compete on a level playing field.


Now, with each addition of new accommodation offered by an Airbnb user, the consumer experience grows. Reviews are shared between all parties. Communication is made to be direct between both the provider and the consumer. This form of co-creation has allowed all parties to participate in determining the value of the service. Suddenly big brands matter less, marketing overheads matter less, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry can be a hotelier.

This change in the old guard has shaken up the hotel industry, with hotel chains scrambling to think of ways in which they can protect their business. Many have tried to overcome the issue by raising lawsuits and merely quibbling over the legality of such a venture. But where is the innovation? Instead of arguing, why haven’t they found new solutions to deal with such a business model? Why are we still being hammered with marketing speak and bombarded with phantasmagoric TV commercials?

A page should be taken from Airbnb’s book, in that co-creation of value is key to continual success. It isn’t about who has the most accommodation spaces, or the biggest marketing budget, it’s about collaboration; every stakeholder should be involved in providing a unique experience. This could mean the difference between experiencing something ordinary, to experiencing something extraordinary.

Kenneth Bjorn Schaap
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

FIFA World Cup 2014 – A Global Conversation

Our last post on this blog mentioned one of the many FIFA World Cup-centric ads that are currently being aired across the globe. After watching a few more over the last week, I wanted to profile one particular ad which I believe captured the true spirit of the event in a very relatable, and global context. The ad I am referring to is the ‘Global Issues’ ad which was aired by the U.S. sports television channel ESPN, and bears the tagline ‘Every 4 years. The conversation starts again’. 

In a nutshell, the ad features a handful of people from different countries, having essentially the same conversations, but with different opinions. The ad is produced and edited in such a way that when one person starts the conversation, another will continue or complete it; depicting therefore a series of  conversations that occur across different age groups, races, and genders. Due to this clever editing, the key message of the ad is very clear – regardless of where you are in the world, everyone will be talking about the World Cup.

Although this ad hasn’t garnered the same attention as perhaps the higher profile ads by McDonalds and Adidas, there is no denying that it doesn’t have a global appeal, and could easily be aired across any country without the key message being lost in translation. What makes it so powerful is that viewers gain an instantaneous understanding of the FIFA brand community, even if like me, you have little interest in sports.

All you need to know in order to understand this ad is that the World Cup is as much about the players and teams, as the people who watch it. It’s the global conversation that really drives the event, and so ESPN was very clever to point this out, and really celebrate the people who make this event the big deal that it is.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Ads you actually want to watch

A number of current trend studies have indicated a movement from televised advertisement to radio and social media ads. However, there may still be a culture out there specifically gathering to watch ads on TV.

For example, large-scale, international big sporting events, such as the Olympics or the World Cup sees big firms paying millions of dollars for their 30 seconds of not just fame, but marketing brilliance. Not to mention, the American Super Bowl; now those ads are expensive!

One of the biggest up-and-coming events, being held this month in Brazil, is the 2014 FIFA World Cup which is set to showcase the world’s top soccer teams. As part of their digital campaign, Beats did an extended advertisement show casing their understanding of, and communication with, their customers. The moving ad can be seen here:

Although I do not own a pair of Beats noise-cancelling headphones, I thought that the introduction of the famous soccer stars and inspirational emotional connection was nicely intermixed with the pump- up music to get everyone in the zone for the big game. I felt as though I could relate to the story of preparing for an athletics game, performing rituals, and listening to “pep talks”. But one thing that kept crossing my mind was…. “Man, this is a seriously long commercial!”

I acknowledge that from a marketing and consumer insights perspective, it is extremely crucial to show the consumers that you understand them and their needs. However, over-emphasising that relationship focus with a lengthy ad only counteracts that aim. In this instance, less could possibly be more.

Chances are this campaign will be cut for the actual televised event, but by then, many people probably would have seen the ad online. Hopefully Beats has saved their best material for the prime time stream of viewers.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Importance of Trade Shows – 2014 Hair Expo Australia

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to be given a pass to attend the 2014 Hair Expo at the Sydney Convention Centre. Having never been to this event before, I was very much looking forward to seeing what was on offer - from both a personal, and marketing perspective.

Although my interest in hair care has been a long-standing affair, it’s only recently when I started studying Marketing that I’ve really begun to assess a brand by more than just the product or service it offers. What made this experience so enriching for me was that I got to really understand the philosophy of the brands displayed at the exhibition in a very tangible way. Each brand had set up their own designated area with signage, furniture, props and music that reflected the ethos of the brand, and the contrast between each displace really accentuated the similarities or differences between the brands.

Trade shows like these for the Hair industry serve as the primary platform of promotion for the businesses that either lack a traditional shop front (i.e. salon exclusive brands, hairdressing equipment distributers), or those that provide specialist services (i.e. hairdressing training) that are typically only advertised to members within the industry. It is therefore crucial for these businesses to raise significant awareness within the few days that the exhibition runs - whether this is done through live demonstrations, or educational seminars.

All in all, I left the event with my pockets a lot lighter, hands full of free samples, and my mind reeling at the possibility of attending this event in the future, but from the other side (i.e. as an employee of a brand involved in the exhibition showing!).  

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the The University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 6 June 2014

Cadbury Malaysia in hot water over pig DNA found in ‘halal’ products

Cadbury has recently come under fire in Malaysia after traces of pig DNA were detected in two of their product lines during routine checks for non-halal substances, conducted by The Malaysian Health Ministry.

Considering that Islam is the most practised religion in Malaysia, and that those practising this religion are forbidden to consume pork or any pork derivative, it is fairly understandable that the country would be in uproar following this discovery.

Cadbury products being withdrawn from shelves in Malaysia (Source:MalayMailOnline)

From a marketing perspective, this situation presents a very difficult position for Cadbury, because the brand loyalty that they would have nurtured in this market (and many similar to it) could quickly diminish if consumers begin to see this mistake as a betrayal of their trust in Cadbury, and of their religion.

In a statement posted on Cadbury Malaysia’s Facebook page, they mentioned that:

“We at Cadbury Malaysia understand that customers are disappointed to hear of the news on the recent test by the Ministry of Health on two of our products.

We understand how important Halal is to the Muslim community. It is also of the highest importance to us here at Cadbury. Ensuring that all our products made here in Malaysia are Halal is something we take very seriously.

We would also like to reassure you that [aside from those products affected] all other products made in Malaysia are not impacted by this test. We greatly appreciate your patience as we work through this matter.”

What I wonder about this statement, and others that have followed it, is whether they are enough to reverse the damage that has been done to their brand image.

McDonalds, for example, has been haunted by ‘urban food myths’ for years, including some that I myself often wonder about. For example, whether there really is pig fat in their ice cream. You may recall a recent campaign that was launched by McDonalds Australia to debunk these food myths, but the reality is that when people start believing that something is true, it’s often hard to dissuade them otherwise.

In a fairly recent interview, McDonald’s CEO, Catriona Noble, noted that:

"[McDonalds has] done a lot to bust myths ... but even in our own lives we come across people [who believe them] .... we've made ads that tell the truth and people still don't believe it."

In Cadbury’s case, this is no food myth, but rather a disturbing reality for the people of Malaysia. Even after the situation cools down, we can expect that Muslim consumers in this country are likely to second guess their next Cadbury purchase, regardless of the original product category that was contaminated, and regardless of how long ago this scandal occurred.

For our purposes, it will be interesting to see how Cadbury plays its cards next, and whether their efforts will be enough to reverse the damage; or at least contain it within the country for now.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Open a New Friendship

I sit here wondering, there couldn't possibly be anything more brilliant that Coca-Cola could do next. However, their latest campaign “Friendly Twist” just screams consumer insight! You can view the full campaign in the video link below:

It goes without saying that American undergraduate freshman get to college or university without knowing anyone on campus. Often they experience homesickness, as many American students journey long distances to their new homes away from home. I myself know this from experience.

Coming from New York, I knew no one in Florida where I was meant to spend the next four years of my studies. All I could was text my friends and family from home or check my Facebook for their updates. Admittedly, there was a lot of anxiety and little relief. But with Coke launching the campaign to create friendly interactions, I hope that today’s freshman will make instant friends.

The campaign shows the design of a special Coca-Cola bottle cap that cannot be opened without the use of a second bottle to twist the caps in opposite directions. When students figure out the trick cap, they then have to ask someone who has a second bottle to help open theirs. The consumer insight here lies in the fact that if you would like to enjoy your bottle of Coke, you’ll need to communicate with someone who is physically in front of you, and not in your cell phone. The fact that Coca-Cola has engineered and successfully produced a bottle that consumers cannot open by themselves doesn't cease to amaze me!

This campaign promotes more than just a fun activity. It involves sharing experiences, co-creating new friendships, and most of all, being happy. Human interaction is something that is instinctual and the fact that most young students have reduced it to zero by living through their phones, is hindering their transition to university life. Also, although this campaign is specifically aimed at 18 year-old students in America, it has the potential to be applied to many other countries and cultures in the near future. For example, although most students in Australia typically continue on to university with at least some of their high school classmates, the universities that they do study at are very large, so a campaign like Coke's "Friendly Twist" can provide an avenue to reach out.

So Coca-Cola, you've done it again; warmed our hearts and found a way to keep us having fun, being engaged, and creating a memory with Coke that cannot be forgetten.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 30 May 2014

The A-List

With the recent rollout of Millward Brown’s 2014 BrandZTM Top 100 Brands list, we can tell who’s in and who’s out. BrandZ is a metric specifically designed by Millward Brown and conducted over three steps to evaluate the performance and success of the world’s most influential companies. Every brand brings something completely different and unique to the table, yet BrandZ is able to compare companies on the same scale and truly look at financial value, brand contribution and brand value. Below you can find the video of this year’s A-List.

The thing is, companies and big brands don’t just make the list because they gross the most profit; instead they are ranked by the values they embody, the needs they satisfy and the further successes they inspire. Key takeaways mentioned on the Millward Brown website include knowing the customers, staying relevant, using technology and creativity for competitive advantages, and being meaningfully different. These aspects are both part of learning about the consumer insights created by branding and advertising, as well as evaluating marketing performance in a universal way. By building a database of metrics like BrandZ, it becomes very clear what some companies are doing to be the most successful.

As an additional measure, Millward Brown evaluates the top 100 on their social media vitality. Social media presence is crucial, as seen in present day throughout politics, entertainment, and the workforce. This dimension has allowed Millward Brown to objectively rank brands based on both frequency and favourability.

Top 100 brands are those that have utilized market research, have specially customized marketing strategies to conquer international markets and digital markets, and who have really resonated with who their customers are and what they can do for them. 

This year it appears that around three Australian companies made the top 100, including Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and Woolworths. Brands like these are also ever expanding and will always play a large part in consumers lives.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Storytelling - The New Way Forward

Within both the content being studied in our classes and my own extra-curricular reading, I keep coming across the idea of ‘storytelling’, and I really wanted to discuss how powerful this method of communication could be for a brand, if harnessed correctly.

The first instance of storytelling that I came across was in reading an article published by The Business of Fashion on the success of Instagram. Speaking about the ‘story’ behind the brand, and its massive brand community, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, was quoted saying that:

“We think of our user base as a community of people contributing to the larger vision of capturing and sharing the world’s moments. When I say moment, a synonym you could use is story. I mean, we really are about storytelling through a visual medium.”

What’s most interesting about this this insight, is that it applies to all companies, and not just Instagram. Consumption, in its fundamental nature, involves a moment, or many moments that create memories, evoke reactions, and build experiences. Whether it be quite literally capturing these moments, as it is the case for Instagram, or currating and controlling the moment, which is the focus for other brands, the need for a story to be told, or written is still universal.

What this means for brands is that the product or service they are selling, regardless of how well designed and sought after it is, still requires a strong context. And communicating this to customers is just as important as creating the product itself. Christopher Bailey, incoming CEO of Burberry, was recently quoted at the launch of the brand’s new flagship store in Shanghai, saying:
“I think [storytelling] is important globally, but in China it stops things from being [mere] product and starts to give it life. History and heritage is important to have as a foundation, but you have to build on top of that to keep it moving forward.”

Cara Delevingne at Burberry’s Shanghai Launch Party. (Source: Burberry)

For Burberry, a brand with such rich history in the UK, storytelling has always been a part of its brand ethos, but as they expand into new markets, or re-enter old ones, re-contextualising this story is clearly of crucial value. After all, how is a customer that is perhaps unaware of Burberry beyond its signature check pattern, able to understand how they fit in to the Burberry world? Well within Asia, part of Burberry’s storytelling strategy has been focused around the association of Burberry with weather, and conditioning Asian customers to see Burberry as a lifestyle brand, as much as a fashion one (i.e. if its raining outside, then you’ll need your Burberry umbrella to go out).

I could go on and on with different examples of storytelling in practice, but most of it is fairly intuitive, so I might save those stories for another time!

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 23 May 2014

The TEDx Sydney experience

I don’t think I have ever had such a fulfilling, inspiring, and exhausting day before TEDx Sydney 2014. I was lucky enough to have been one of the six recipients of the University of Sydney TEDx ticket giveaway from the ‘share your greatest lesson’ challenge, so I attended the TED exclusive studio event with fellow USYD student Ross Ketelbey (B.Sc).

The event stretched my mind in ways I couldn’t even imagine would happen within short 15 minute talks. Every speaker was so captivating and inspirational that you were sure to become an advocate in the end and learn a great deal more then you knew about the subject previously. In the marketing world, particularly, some speakers really stood out, such as Adam Alter, a Psychology and Marketing Professor at NYU who is originally from here in Australia. Adam spoke about emotional marketing and the significance tied to certain objects, ideas, or concepts that can affect our decision-making processes. This subject is highly relevant to our current course subject in Contemporary Consumer Insights.

One example given throughout the talk was about how prone we are to liking the initials of our names. This fondness of certain letters translates to the larger picture when statistics are shown about the commonality and frequency of letters beginning first names. The most common male names in the U.S. begin with the letters M, J, S, and A, for example. Now, if Adam is telling us we are most likely to like our own letters, then maybe we’d be subconsciously more inclined to donate to a cause such as hurricane or cyclone relief for a storm that had the same first letter as the most popular names in the country.

Adam therefore proposed a method to stop naming storms in alphabetical order, and instead name them based on common names within the country of question. If meteorologists played on these strong emotional connections, they could potentially source more donations following the aftermath storms. It’s not necessarily meant to be malicious, but simply displays the bonding that takes place when we find a cause that we can relate back to ourselves somehow; even in the slightest measure such as the initial of your first name.

Other extremely notable talks and ideas, in my opinion, came from Markus Zusak, Cindi Shannon Weickert, Mary Jerram, and Megan Washington; all of which can now be watched online. TEDx Sydney 2014 was an truly an incredible experience, and it definitely gave me a fresh perspective on many topics that I look forward to applying in my studies, and future work life.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Is there no such thing as bad publicity after all?

For those of you possibly living in social media exile, last week celebrity gossip website TMZ leaked elevator footage of Solange Knowles physically attacking brother-in-law, and rapper Jay Z, following their attendance at the Vogue hosted Metropolitan Ball. The footage was missing audio, and so it didn’t take long for #whatJayZsaidtoSolange to start trending worldwide, and an internet and media frenzy regarding the attack to follow.

Surprisingly, the breakout star of this whole debacle turns out to be the clutch that Solange used to attack Jay, and which she is seen holding on the red carpet a few hours prior to the incident. Given the part this clutch played in the attack, one could assume that the original designer would want nothing to do with the situation, and instead, choose to ignore the negative associations of this attack with his or her brand. But for Anya Hindmarch, the designer of said clutch, this was clearly not the route she chose to take, and instead, her team tweeted a tongue-in-check new campaign image for the clutch, as seen below.

Although it is often argued that bad publicity, is still bad publicity, in a situation like this one, the opportunity to cash in on such wide spread media exposure is no doubt tempting, but is it worth the risk of making a bad situation worse? Well PR Maven, Ken Makovsky, argues that it really depends on how well known the company was before the incident, and how long the negative press lasts. In his article on this matter, he notes that ‘unless a company is afflicted by an ongoing crisis which is reported on almost daily in the print, broadcast and social media, most people in due time forget the occasional negative they read or hear and just remember seeing the company or product name in the media.’

So for a fairly niche accessories brand like Anya Hindmarch, whose name is only really imbedded into the minds of devote luxury consumers, it couldn’t really hurt to capitalise on the unsolicited exposure that this incident has brought with it. Apart from perhaps offending those involved in the incident itself, I would argue that it was a great example of making good of a pretty bad situation. Maybe it was too soon, or distasteful for some, but when punches are already flying, why not throw one of your own?

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Co-creation in the Audi Virtual Lab

Audi faced a design challenge in 2004: how to use the lessons learnt from the poor reception of BMW’s iDrive to put together their own user interface.  Their aim was to create the ideal embodiment of intuitive use; consoles that would allow drivers to access information, communication platforms and entertainment that would appeal to different customer segments. It needed to be Vorsprung durch Technic, i.e. advancement through technology.

Enter the Virtual Lab, an online interactive excursion into co-design. It was a process that Audi felt warranted a second run in 2006, but this time across Germany, Japan and USA.

The aims for these invite-only Virtual Labs were reasonably ‘simple’: involve customers in the development of upcoming interior systems by gathering information on customer preferences and trends, in quick and efficient manner. Also, they hoped to gain insight into the co-design process itself; with respect to customer acceptance, the customer’s  perceptions and the quality of user input.
The interactive processes in Audi's Virtual Lab

Bringing together their designers, engineers, IT and marketing pros Audi laid out an interactive experience (shown in the accompanying image), that encouraged the user to design the info-tainment systems to their preference. All the options were there; communications, entertainment, audio, video, navigation, telematics, together with the UI itself. Ultimately, the end-user was now able to designe their potential console layout solely with Audi’s resources.

The participants for the Virtual Lab deliberately included both early adopters and more traditional customers. Audi was looking for insights -not only into what offerings tech-savvy early adopters were most keen on-but also what usability issues other customers may have faced. With BMW’s integrated electronics interface suffering some user-friendly issues, Audi took the right step in consulting those who knew best – their customers.

The lab itself offered a range of options for design: from the ‘easy-mode’ offerings of popular bundled items, to a  more micro-managed level where users were able to select components and layout individually. Many of the systems offered were still in development and only existed virtually, allowing both Audi and their customers to gauge insight into their adoption.

As this article suggests, this process was a success. This form of pre-emptive feedback benefited both customers and Audi. In effect, they were able to alter infotainment prototypes without losing sacrificing money, or waiting for the next model update.

Ultimately, Audi gained insights into driver preferences, enabling them to distinguish between what was considered as must-haves from the nice-to-haves. From the data they collected from participants, they were able to group results based on model preferences, demographics and other consumer traits.

What was interesting and worth noting was that customers were intrinsically motivated. They had their own interest in participating. It was enjoyable, and they felt they had real input; a channel right to a designer’s ear. The only external motivation that was offered was the distribution of promotional hats.

Overall, clear, open co-creation processes like this offer insight for businesses to solve customer issues: just ask the customers themselves. 

Based on information from:
Bartl, M. 2009, Making-of Innovation,, viewed 12 April 2014, <>
Bartl, M. and Füller, J. 2007, ‘User design in practice – the Audi Virtual Lab’, Proceedings of the World Conference on Mass Customisation & Personalisation, Cambridge, Massachusetts, viewed 12 April 2014, <>
‘Case Study: Audi Infotainment’ 2004, European Business Forum, vol. 19, Autumn, pp 56-7, view 14 April, <>

Jason Della
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School