Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Marketing Sameness

Hi all! Sorry about the prolonged delay on the Google piece. I pinky promise to get it to you asap, with cherries on top. So we’ll talk about something else today? For one of our assignments in Marketing we talked about marketing sameness. Deep stuff I know, but just bare with me.

An interesting quote by William Bernbach - "In advertising, not to be different is virtually suicidal”. So in saying this, why is it a growing trend that so many marketing campaigns are the same? I found 4 reasons.
One is, as Greg Ippolito puts it, the psychology of sameness. People are born to imitate others. That’s how we naturally learn. Advertising geniuses are rare, pairing that with the fact that the ability to imitate requires little talent, and we end up with the vast majority of creatives being driven by the psychology of sameness who resort to the ever-popular, undying cliché.

A good example is the change in retail branding in the US. In an attempt to be more relevant to younger customers, America's department stores and retailers have lost their brand identities as we can see below.

"The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife" - David Ogilvy. Part of the problem of marketing sameness is a lack of empathy, and in order to craft meaningful communications, they need to empathise with their audience, and very few people are wired for empathy in the marketing world.

The second issue is the rapid growth of social media and its influence on consumer behaviour. In the new world of the empowered consumer, they are exposed to more than 3,500 marketing messages per day. In order to stand out, marketers have evolved from traditional to transformational. But most companies are doing it wrong. For the automotive industry, their view of adaption to social media is to upload their TV commercials on Youtube.

The budget also plays an important role for marketing in a company. The lack of revenue can sometimes encourage brands to make campaigns with a high degree of innovation, divergent thinking and risk taking, i.e. viral campaigns and guerrilla marketing. But sometimes, it goes in the opposite direction. A perfect example is given again, by the automotive industry.
GM had just recovered from bankruptcy and promised product-centric ads that sold differentiating features. They down-played the GM brand and instead featured the individual brands Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet. Sounds’ promising doesn’t it? Unfortunately due to budget restrictions, the ads failed to create any distance from each other, but rather reinforce that they are part of a family of brands.

Cookie-cutter ads GM have produced to save on cost.

The last issue is the company’s lack of marketing knowledge which allows every department to work together and achieve a common goal. In most cases, different departments in a company set their own goals, which sometimes contradict with each other. The classic one is the everlasting fight for budget across departments. This produces a vicious cycle and slowly grinds off people’s enthusiasm to come up with anything new.

This marks the end of the post. It’s a bit long I know, but I think the outcome is quite informative. And being marketing people, I hope it will be of help to you in some way. Again, sorry about the delay on the Google piece. I will deliver it asap, with cherries on top, as pinky promised.

Stay lovely and don’t forget to smile! Ta!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Life in a Day

I have always loved documentaries; I love them for their honesty, integrity and edited reality. And when I found out about this movie, I had to go see it. Thanks to the power of geo-marketing, I received session information for the nearest cinema as soon as I finished watching the preview on Youtube. Ahhh… the world of technology at my fingertips…building everyday living solutions… Let’s leave my appreciation for all things gadgetry for my next entry shall we, which is about our Masters of Marketing class visit to Google. Yay!

Back to the film. I had to do some research before I went to see it because I had mixed comments from my Masters of Marketing class and from friends. This is what made me decided to go... "An entirely new form of storytelling... provocative, gorgeous, and at times deeply moving." - Wired Magazine

Last year, YouTube asked its users to upload a film capturing something about their lives on one particular day, as an attempt to create a unique snapshot of a day on Earth, over 24 hours, from all corners of the world that serves as a time capsule to show future generations what it was like to be alive on the 24th of July, 2010.

Watch the idea behind the movie:

The film is 94 minutes 57 seconds long and assembled with scenes selected from more than 80,000 clips adding up to 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries around the world, by Oscar winning director Kevin MacDonald. The completed film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2011 and the premiere was streamed live on YouTube.

Watching the official trailer:

So I went to watch the movie, and it was surreal but overwhelming at times. The imagery was breathtaking, and everything was put together beautifully. But after a while I started to think, this is the first of many experiments with new media in cinema and it's potentially a very interesting one. But I don't think this is as ground breaking as it could have been. The concept is simple, and self expression is what people are born to do. But how can it be better? And what on earth has this got to do with marketing? As this is a marketing blog after all.

Well. There are many examples of co-creation in the Marketing world too. Honourable mentions include the scandalous iSnack 2.0,Which caused much anger and fury and costed Kraft millions of dollars to remove from shelves.

And the extremely successful “The best job in the world” campaign by Tourism Queensland that went viral extremely quickly and earned the brand over AUD$400 million of estimated marketing dollars when it was picked up by mass media including global news coverage from CNN stories to BBC documentaries, Time magazine articles and everything in between.

The best job in the world campaign was successful because they kept the footages original. They simply built a system of supporting marketing mediums around it and let the people vote for the most suitable applicant, allowing the people to have their say every step of the way and creating an emotional connection with the audience.

Picture source:

iSnack 2.0 cough*failed*cough because although they went out of the box by collaborating with the target market on coming up with the name, they didn’t follow the idea through and the name selection process happened in the boardroom at Kraft. As boardroom tradition goes, they never pick the name somebody likes; they picked the name nobody hates. So not only did Kraft mess with “our” brand, the people who went through the trouble of coming up with a top-notch name, submitting it then crossed their fingers also feel used. I would imagine a similar case with Life in a Day. Perhaps the film should have been edited by the person who submitted the footage, because they’re the only one who knows exactly what the video wanted to express. By excluding them from the editing process, some value and meaning might be lost in translation, which is such a shame as people put so much effort into it, and it’s disappointing to see it not achieve its full potential.

Do you like the film? Feel free to leave me your comment.

This marks the end of the entry. Please stay tuned for the next blog on Google. In the mean time, be well and stay lovely!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Gasp Email Scandal – Customer Relationship Management Fail or Brilliant PR Stunt?

Hello everyone! Just want to use this blog entry as an opportunity to discuss a recent incident we talked about in our Integrated Marketing Communications class for the Master of Marketing involving an Australian clothing label and a dissatisfied bride-to-be. We’ll start with some background; Gasp clothing, an Australian boutique chain, is gloating about the international attention garnered by its obnoxious response to a customer complaint, which turned into a viral email sensation.

Keara O'Neil was on a shopping trip with two friends at the GASP Chapel St store on September 24 when she had a dispute with a sales assistant named "Chris". O'Neil, a retail assistant herself, claims Chris was initially helpful but soon turned nasty, making a dig at her size 12 frame and yelling out as she left the store, "Have fun shopping at Supre... I knew you were a joke the minute you walked in".

Keara O’Neil, put the issue in the hands of social media, and made Gasp’s rude responses everyone’s problem.

Distressed by the treatment, O'Neil then sent a letter to the customer service centre at GASP, which was answered by GASP area manager Matthew Chidgey who further insulted her and called Chris a retail “Superstar”. The email exchange then went viral, and made the infamous boutique known to the world. Mr Chidgey later confirmed that the email was legitimate but was “written by one of the staff in head office.” During the interview on The 7pm Project, Mr Chidgey also said that the girls “walked around the store making fun of the dresses.” and when asked about the public’s response following the incident, Mr Chidgey said that “the comments we received were mostly positive with some negative”, which made him the laughing stock on National Television.

GASP Store Manager Matt Chidgey on 7PM Project

GASP also released a statement in its defence. "We respect that not all consumers strive for a glamorous appearance; some prefer to simply blend in. We respect and welcome all customers whom wish to visit our store, even though the intention to buy may not exist. But we ask that their opinions be expressed through blogs, social media or around a warm latte, but certainly not inside our stores."

Refusing to back down, Gasp has further vowed to ban O'Neil and all her friends from stepping into the stores, while thanking her for initiating free promotion. "GASP's official statement to the young lady who started this tremendous publicity stunt for our company is that, we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for putting our business on the national and international stage," Chidgey wrote in an email to the Herald Sun.

"Notwithstanding your ill intentions, our business has experienced unprecedented sales volume, and we would like to thank you for all your assistance in helping to achieving this. To all the rude and obnoxious clowns, we respectfully ask that you get out and stay out, we don't want you or your business. We ask that (you) share your misconceived and unfounded remarks amongst yourselves. Have a nice day and good luck," added Chidgey, ending the email.

The announcement on GASP’s website further proved truth in the increase in sales due to this social media stir-up.

It is understood GASP later closed its Facebook page following a deluge of negative comments concerning the incident. “Gaspfail” was registered immediately after the Facebook closure which blew up across Twitter. GASP have yet to respond as they don’t currently have a Twitter account. It's important to remember that while the shelf life of social disasters is mercifully short, search isn't so forgiving. Long after Gasp Fail has faded from the social networks, Google will continue to display content related to the incident that will drag Gasp’s brand through the mud each and every time someone searches for it.

Gasp is not the first company to be brought to its knees by the devastatingly democratic demands of social media, and how they respond now will be critical to their survival. The United Airlines example is one that has become legendary. When David Carroll's complaint about his broken guitar was ignored by United, he wrote a song called United Breaks Guitars. The song has now been viewed by 10 million people online and 100 million people across the globe know his story. It has been estimated that the complaint wiped $180m off United's share value.

I’m sure the advancement in this case must have dropped a few jaws, but let’s analyse this for some insights. A few obvious ones were mentioned in class during the discussion. First one is that, not everyone at work should be allowed to write. Every company should have a complaint manager who deals with customer complaints and a dedicated writer to respond on behalf of the company. Secondly, always apologise, as your business is to an extend run by your customers, and optimise the effects of social media as much as you can to get the message out. And thirdly, train your customer representatives. How the internal company culture works is one thing, but reflecting that attitude with your customer is simply unacceptable. Now, could a business get it so incredibly wrong? Is this really a customer relationship management fail or a carefully fabricated PR stunt? Just something for you to think about until the answer unravels itself, mostly likely on social media.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Telstra Brand Launch

Welcome to the second entry to the Marketing Matters blog! I survived through the first one! Yay! Hope you liked it!

As we all would have noticed by now Telstra looks different… (Actually I wasn't until I was told in my Master of Marketing class) and because Telstra is such an iconic brand, I’m planning to turn this topic into a case study about how major brands reposition themselves to create new brand values. This blog entry will be on-going as I will be watching Telstra’s performance and people’s reaction closely for the next few months as part of my study covering a few subjects including Integrated Marketing Communications and Regulatory Environment & Ethics.

Since the beginning of 2009, rumour has it that Telstra’s NextG Wireless is growing, with Telstra already set up to transition to 4G and LTE Wireless technology, which is capable of delivering movies to tablets and other devices in a matter of seconds (Richards, 2011). In September 2011 Telstra has unveiled a new colourful identity that aims to capture the diversity of its products, services and customers, in the biggest change to the Telstra brand since its transition from Telecom Australia in 1993 (CB, 2011). Full page ads were featured on the Sun-Herald on the 18th of September in celebration of the launch.

Full page ads on the Sun-Herald
DDB Group's specialist brand agency, Interbrand, worked with Telstra on the brand identity and along with DDB Sydney launched a new Telstra advertising campaign featuring the new look brand through TV and press. Marty O’Halloran, Chief Executive Officer, DDB Group said: “Telstra is one of Australia’s biggest, most recognisable brands. Our challenge was to maintain that familiarity, while also encouraging customers to re-evaluate what Telstra is about. Aspects of people’s lives are not any one colour, so injecting the existing branding with a full colour wardrobe means that we can take the Telstra brand to customers in a recognisable, relevant and engaging way.” (Aimgroup, 2011)

Telstra's new TVC

The new brand identity is designed to reflect the changes that have been happening at Telstra over the past two years, as the company moves to focus on customer service, sales and marketing while continuing its great legacy of engineering excellence (CB, 2011). The Telstra logo will continue in its current shape, and will feature a new colour palette incorporating orange, green, turquoise, blue, purple and magenta. The new look will be used for all customer groups including consumer, business, enterprise and government (Sandev, 2011).

Most of the negative comments from Mumbrella, the B&T website and CB website are from people who are not convinced that Telstra is able to provide real improvements to their services and this all “advertising fluff”. But overall, Telstra received positive feedback but the effects of the campaign are yet to be seen. This is a comment from GreatStrategy on the B&T website: "I think Telstra has done a great job rebranding. As a customer that has loathed Telstra for most of my life, I am observing my own change in attitude to Telstra not just from this rebranding but by their recent attempts to be more competitive. Its a good change and looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.” And another one from Al on CB:“Colourfully forgettable”. I personally am staying neutral as I’m waiting to see what actual changes Telstra will make before making a decision on the effectiveness of this brand change. For more information on their new branding, visit Telstra's website.

This is an interesting case study because it covers a variety of issues including brand equity, corporate restructuring, internal marketing as well as value creation which are all important topics covered in the Master of Marketing course. There are many other topics and I will include them as I go.

This marks the end of this post. I will be writing about this topic from difference perspectives through the next few months and compare it to other major iconic brands that are perhaps not doing so well cough*Qantas*cough. I’ll leave you with something to think about. What is your point of view on the new Telstra campaign?