Monday, 17 December 2012

Royal prank call impact on brands

Since the 2Day FM DJs prank call to a London hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated for Hyperemesis Gravidarum (we all know what that means now) and the unfortunate death of the nurse who transferred the call to the duchess ward, much has been debated about the regulations, codes and moral standards breached as well as who is to bear the blame. The radio presenters, radio station, hospital staff and the nurse’s former mental state are now all being scrutinised in the search for answers.

 Here we’ll take a look at the marketing implications for the brands involved in the incident, in particular the Southern Cross Austereo corporate brand, the 2Day FM music station brand, the Hot30 Countdown show brand and the individual radio hosts’ brands. Channel Ten has approached Professor Charles Areni, from the Discipline of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School, to comment on the case from a brand perspective, and he has also shared with us some of his views.

According to him, the Southern Cross Austereo as well as the 2Day FM brands are unlikely to face serious damage as corporate brands tend to sit in the background preventing high exposure and associations with events like this. On the other hand, it’s probably the end of the road for the Hot30 show brand but, like any discontinued product brand, it can easily be replaced by a new brand tailored to the same target audience.

The focus of the blame and damage is clearly being directed towards the personal brands of the presenters, Michael Christian and Mel Greig – whether or not it is justified. It may seem like the end of their careers in media; however, history shows personal brands of other media presenters have been able to recover from similar backlashes and restore their value in the long run.

As pointed out by Prof. Charles Areni, American sports caster Marv Albert, commonly referred to as ‘the voice of basketball’, had his broadcasting career shattered in 1997 after pleading guilty to misdemeanour assault and battery charges involving bizarre sexual conduct towards a 42 year-old women. NBC, for whom Marv worked for over 20 years, fired him shortly after the incident only to bring him back onboard less than two years later.

Similarly, American sports radio host, Jim Rome, was the focus of a media frenzy in 1994 when he repeatedly insulted NFL quarterback, Jim Everett, a guest on his ESPN2 talk show. The host’s inappropriate comments prompted the player to attack him on air overturning the table between them and shoving Rome to the floor. The presenter admitted the event was an early career mistake and was able to bounce back ranking as the 29th most influential talk radio personality in 2008 according to the Talkers Magazine.

Can you think of any other brands that were able ‘resurrect’ after public backlash? What factors in your opinion have contributed to their come back?

Adriana Heinzen
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Celebrity worshiping lessons for marketing

If you think university learning is all about textbooks and journals, think again! This year we had the chance to learn about consumer behaviour from a professor who is also an accomplished film director and runs a production house within the Sydney University called Thinkbox. Marylouise Caldwell has been the recipient of six international awards for her film works.

Her documentary ‘Walk the Talk’ shed light into a pageant in Botswana, which was designed to stop the aggressive spread of HIV infection and promote dramatic lifestyle changes, and won the jurors' and the people's choice awards at the 2010 The Association for Consumer Research Conference. With all this richness of experiences, there was never a dull moment in class!

Her studies on celebrity worshiping led to the development of the ‘Living Dolls’ film based on the behaviour of the Cliff Richard Fan Club members in Sydney, which also won the people’s choice award at the 3rd North American Association for Consumer Research Film Festival. Entertainment factors aside, you may ask what celebrity worshiping studies have to do with marketing?

Everything! Fans engaged in the worshiping of celebrities enact consumer-brand relationships. Studies on consumer-brand relationships are critical to understanding marketing exchange. The celebrity worshiping behaviour also provides benefits beyond those directly linked to the famous person, for example, by creating an extended social network of people who engage in social activities and provide each other with emotional support. These are key elements of successful brand communities as mentioned on a previous blog post.

So what brand comes to mind when you think of worshiping behaviour? You got it, Apple and its countless evangelists, fans and followers. Apple, the brand, is indisputably a celebrity, possibly the biggest brand celebrity in history... What can you learn from it in terms of creating your own brand followers?

In the same way music celebs create a lot of secrecy in the development of an upcoming album, Apple goes to incredible lengths to preserve confidentiality during the development of its new products. Apple is the master of teaser marketing campaign building suspense and media buzz for months before the release of a new iPhone.

The illusion of scarcity around Apple’s new products also enacts the limited amount of tickets for coveted music gigs. Scarcity increases the value of the product and prompts procrastinators to jump on the bandwagon and secure the purchase. During the release of iPhone 5, which beat records of first-day sales, Apple only allowed pre-orders. Then, an hour after it went on sale, Apple announced the heavy demand resulted in delayed delivery, adding to the difficulty and desirability of owing the new iPhone.

What other similarities do you see between the brand-consumer relationship and the interaction between celebrities and fans?

Adriana Heinzen
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Privacy Data: Are Companies doing the Right Thing?

Every day, Australians provide enormous quantities of information about themselves to a wide range of organisations – to retailers, bankers, insurers, health funds, government departments and agencies and countless others. What do we know about how this data is protected? The short answer is that most of us know only “a little”, a handful claim to know “a lot” and an appreciable number say they “know nothing” about it.

A national poll on public attitudes towards privacy conducted late last month by the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) shows that just under ten percent of those questioned claimed they know a lot about how companies and organisations protect their personal information while a quarter claimed they knew nothing about it. Between these extremes, close to two thirds of the population said they knew “a little” about how these organisations protect personal information.

Dr Terry Beed, an Honorary Associate Professor in the Discipline of Marketing at the University of Sydney commented on an advance copy of the results of the poll on Friday 16 November. His addressed a combined Business School/AMSRO Leadership Forum attended by over 60 applied and academic market and social researchers and special guest Timothy Pilgrim, the Australian Privacy Commissioner.

Dr Beed says, “This relatively low level of awareness has not changed much over the years. We could conclude people don’t care too much about what organisations do to protect individual privacy and are happy to let it go at that, entrusting organisations holding data about them to “do the right thing”. Alternatively, others might be alarmed they are being tracked or profiled and maybe protest about it individually or as members of organised groups. As the internet and mobile platforms become the dominant channels of marketing communication we will need a better understanding of how we feel about sharing personal information about ourselves with others”.

How do you protect your privacy on line? Is there any way that we can better protect ourselves when sharing personal details on line or over the phone in business transactions?

Terry Beed
Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Juicy Couture: Product placement meets shopping on YouTube

Sunbathing by the pool in a tiny bikini, supermodel Candice Swanepoel daydreams of fabulous parties where even the cats wear jewelry… your typical fashion video, except you can buy the Juicy Couture items without leaving the page!

YouTube has started testing a new feature that embeds external links into its videos allowing viewers to shop for products while watching the media. While many product categories can take advantage of this, women’s fashion has taken the lead. Juicy Couture and ASOS have both recently used the new capability to create YouTube videos that resemble moving catalogues or ‘shoppable’ videos.

Without going into the details of the above advertising video message, style and execution (their target clearly 20-something), the use of the technology is very innovative. For marketers, this integrates many steps into one experience – product viewing, demonstration and purchase – and has the potential for much higher ad conversions.

Advertising creatives agree the thinking is spot-on, but say the execution has a lot of room for improvement. Every time the viewer clicks on a product he/she is interested in, the video stops, interrupting the whole experience. “This is the Sony Walkman of ecommerce and video,” says Darrell Whitelaw, Executive Creative Director at IPG Media Lab, which has Google as one their clients.

While Target has produced a short-film that allows users click on products and add them to a shopping cart for later purchase without interrupting the experience, a purchase from within videos, not just add items into a cart, without busting the experience is still to be perfected.

What implications does this technology advancement have for marketing, when brand awareness, evaluation and purchase are all blended into one experience?

Adriana Heinzen
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Beware the Generic SWOT

SWOT analysis would have to be among the most over and misused models around. I am particularly reminded of this fact around this time of the year when marking undergraduate assignments, where quite a number of them incorporate rather inappropriate SWOTs.

However, the misuse of SWOT analysis isn’t just confined to undergraduates. Most of the organizations that I worked for have also managed to equally misuse the SWOT.

One of the alluring dangers of a SWOT is its supposed simplicity. It is certainly a simple concept to grasp, but the development of an effective SWOT is quite painstaking and difficult to achieve.

The standard use of a SWOT in an organization, based on my direct experience, usually occurs two hours or so into a strategic planning weekend, right after a series of ice-breaker and team-building exercises (primarily designed to convince people that they should be giving up their weekend for the good of the organization).

To make matters worse, the development of the SWOT normally takes place within a brainstorming session, which somehow manages to be completed in just ten minutes or so to produce the infamous generic SWOT.

However, to be used effectively a SWOT analysis should be completed at the end of an extensive period of analysis and completed in detail by a number of analytical and strategic people, who may debate the issues for days to arrive at a final document. In other words, the final SWOT (for larger firms) should represent weeks of insightful analysis and discussion - not a quick ten minutes of random brainstorming.

Why is so much effort required for a SWOT? Because a SWOT is the summary and foundation position for the firm or brand that the entire marketing strategy is then based upon. And it goes without saying, that if you quickly brainstorm a generic SWOT, then you are very likely to develop a generic marketing strategy that will have limited impact in the marketplace.

So what is a generic SWOT? A generic SWOT is the direct output of a SWOT brainstorming session that produces a SWOT that is 90% identical to every other firm in the world. In other words, if your firm has used brainstorming or some other top-level technique to develop a SWOT, then I could probably predict 90% of your SWOT.

The usual starting point is strengths and of course we will usually come up with such classics as 'our product range', 'our customer service', and, of course, the always popular and politically correct 'great management team' and even occasionally we will throw in 'great staff' or 'great culture'.

Next we turn to weaknesses and usually we will identify 'product gaps', 'brand equity', 'limited target markets', along with some 'staff skills' in order to ensure that the training department has something to do for the next 12 months.

Threats are usually the easiest and often the longest list. Topping the charts here is 'competition', followed by 'environmental issues', 'rising costs' and 'technology change'.

The list of opportunities is pretty straightforward as well and will include the standards of 'new products', 'new markets', along with the more modern entries of 'social media' and 'digital marketing'.

It goes without saying that in these sessions there is the almost mandatory discussion of the difference between strengths and opportunities and between weaknesses and threats, along with the debate of whether the same issue can be on two lists. Unfortunately, this style of discussion and direction, particularly in an open and judgmental brainstorming session, is usually not helpful. And, of course, we will end up with 'technology change' being both an opportunity and a threat and an 'established product range' being both a strength and a weakness.

As you can guess, I'm not a big fan of the quick top-level SWOT. In my view, they are very dangerous and best to be avoided. However, thought-out, debated and analytical SWOTs can open the door to the development of innovative and highly effective marketing strategies that can make a huge difference to an organization’s performance.

Geoff Fripp
Lecturer – Masters of Marketing at the University of Sydney Business School