Thursday, 26 September 2013

Alumni Adele Tarnewski from Interbrand

The Master of Marketing has offered so many opportunities in and outside of the classroom – one of them being the chance to attend industry events. You may remember a while ago some of our students were lucky enough to attend Interbrand’s annual event, and now we can showcase our very own talent – Adele from Interbrand, and graduate of the Master of Marketing.

If you are interested in the Master of Marketing, you can attend our Postgraduate Information on Wednesday 16th October 2013, 6-8pm at the Sydney CBD Campus (133 Castlereagh Street, Sydney). You can register and find more information on the Postgraduate Information Session website.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Is Abercrombie’s value proposition damaging?

We've been talking a lot in class about value propositions and brand meanings. Most of the time, we study exemplary cases – where brands have offered outstanding value for customers, and customers in turn have responded with trust and loyalty. It’s a two way street. We do, however, forget there are brands out there using the same set of marketing tools – but making a mess of things…

A recent article on SMH urged that perhaps it’s time for Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Michael Jeffries to move on from the company, as the strategy behind the company may be the very reason for the decline in sales. Not one to be shy, Jeffries has been very vocal about who – or more specifically, who isn’t - Abercrombie & Fitch’s audience. A quick Google can reveal the many lawsuits, comments and slip ups where A&F have managed to step on the toes of the majority, while simply trying to target their audience. A target audience that seems to be getting smaller and smaller.

While theoretically they are doing the right thing, really pinpointing their target customer, they are doing it in a way that alienates pretty much everyone else. Alongside this, in a world where we are increasingly growing suspicious of large corporations and their agendas, A&F are not showing appropriate Corporate Social Responsibility and their role in shaping the opinions of young people. Should they be really pushing the idea that being thin and cool are the only things to strive for in life? Surely education, community, happiness – or countless other attributes – are far more inspiring for young people to aspire to.

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids...Candidly, we go after the cool kids," Jefferies was quoted as saying. "We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

The problem with this very exclusionary way of branding is that people can retaliate against you. In the case of A&F, writer Greg Karber launched a controversial social media campaign to reposition the brand by donating A&F to the homeless. Although Karber has received criticism for exploiting those in need to illustrate a point, his campaign gained momentum and brought to light the behaviour of A&F. "When (the brand's) clothing is damaged, instead of donating it to the poor or unfortunate, they burn them," says Karber.

In my opinion, just because you have all the tools, doesn’t mean you will know how to use them properly! Abercrombie & Fitch demonstrate how a lack of understanding of customers can really damage your brand, cause retaliation and bad press. Oh! And one more thing, it’s pretty strange for a company that sells clothing that your ad campaigns very rarely feature any clothes – just food for thought!

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Mini Ads Get Personal

The weekend’s Integrated Marketing Communication class was almost completely all about how critical it is for marketers to communicate with the single person who is our target audience. To what certain extent can marketing communication be personalised? Actually, it’s not really a new idea that I've never heard of before, but the challenge is how to define the exact individual behind the masses, and how to build engagement with him or her.

The recent Mini billboard has handled this perfectly. It was extremely personalised communication through digital displays showing individually tailored massages to each of the Mini’s drivers. The ad is activated by spotters with iPads, taking photos of Mini’s drivers in their cars, and their image was then shown on the billboard further down the road.

The personal digital message then turns into real interaction like free tanks of petrol, or a lovely breakfast with 2000 other Mini's drivers. It is definintely out of the ordinary to see, instead of a regular old billboard, and a personalised message saying "Early start, Mr. Grey Mini driver? … Need a pick me up? … Fancy a tasty bacon butty? … Mini's buying … See you at the next garage."

Mini's digital billboard performance was only one part of its global marketing campaign “not normal” run by Iris Worldwide. By launching this first brand campaign after almost six years, Mini wanted to celebrate the special relationship the company has with its customers. Using the insight that Mini customers see their car in very unique and creative way, ad agencies then created the campaign that gets Mini drivers to feel like a part of extraordinary “not normal” community.

Whether Mini’s marketers desired to only satisfy their exciting customers, or to grab attention from potential Mini’s buyers with such a fun campaign, they have found a new approach to communicate with Mini’s audience on a totally personal level. I definitely like this “not normal” campaign itself and the way Mini has so successfully used consumers’ insight to delight Mini’s drivers.

Elena Sveshnikova
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Interview with Head of Marketing, Google Search at the University of Sydney

A while ago, we imparted some wisdom from when we sat down with Deepak Ramanathan and learned what kind of people Google likes to hire and their approach to marketing. How lucky are we to have opportunities like this? You can get a little taste of the morning with the Q&A video below.

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Marketing for the Good. Watch Greenpeace’s daring protest.

Last week in our Regulatory Environment and Ethics class, a few of our Master of Marketing cohorts spoke about the controversial marketing tactics of PETA, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. Hotly debated – was PETA’s actions unethical, or just clever advertising?

We’ve touched on this topic before, in class and our on blog when we looked at Queensland RSPCA’s campaign to promote animal rights. When it comes to marketing and communication for NGOs or ecological groups, the way to go about it can be very tricky.

Never shy in the face of injustice, Greenpeace comes along once again to stir up some action. On the 29th August at 6 a.m., 35 activists, some dressed as polar bears, snuck into Shell’s largest Danish refinery, scaling its huge smokestacks and oil tanks to unfurl a rebranded Shell logo.

In 2012, Shell began exploring the Arctic, looking to tap crude. One of the most violate ecosystems, the Arctic is also one of the most difficult to clean up if an accident occurred. Along with breaking many safety and environmental violations, Shell would also be endangering the natural Polar Bear Habitat.

Although Shell’s plans for drilling in the Arctic may not be making breaking international news, organisations like Greenpeace are constantly fighting for the information to be available for all. But has it worked?

While this video has not been produced for a TVC or any specific campaign, it is part of the long running guerilla tactics that Greenpeace have been using to get attention for their agenda. From a content marketing perspective, their footage, while provocative and compelling, perhaps lacks in the “why should I share” department. “Why should I care?” well, for most people who are sharing this video, it is quite possible that ecological issues are already at the forefront of their interests. But what Greenpeace, among many other organisations really needs is content that is applicable, and relatable to people outside of their usual demographic. I’m reminded again of PETA, and their provocative poster.

By employing tactics usually used by the very industries they are trying to fight (e.g. fashion), PETA are able to really strike a chord. I can’t say for certain that they’ve converted many vegans this way, but at least the conversation has become a broader one.

Perhaps Greenpeace should take a leaf out of the books of some of the most shared ads of 2012. I’m sure you’ve all seen “A DRAMATIC SURPRISE ON A QUIET SQUARE”, an entertaining and surprising video, which actually turns out to be an advertisement for a television channel. By finding an interesting and unexpected way to deliver your message, people are more likely to share with their friends.

Although daring has always been in the repertoire of Greenpeace, perhaps to appeal to a larger audience, the words “funny” or “enlightening” or “captivating” should be added? For me, I can definitely think of a few more ways to use those polar bear costumes!

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Ready to vote?

It seems pretty interesting getting through an election race without actually having to be involved as a voter. As we are both are non-Australian, we have an unbiased look at the current election campaigns and how they have shaped our thoughts. To be honest, neither Kevin Rudd nor Tony Abbott seem like very inspiring speakers, yet there are a number of questions in regards to political and economy matters that they are going head to head on. What is the most surprising to us is how far both campaigns have gone with their extremely negative massages. Not only is the content negative, the tone encourages the general public to not only not vote for, but to also fear the opposing party. To the outside observer, the campaigns seem to lose the real value of the candidates and what they stand for.

We discussed an example of this in our Marketing Research for Decision Markers class. Take for example the below advertisements employed by Australian Labor party in their current re-election campaign. This very dispiriting campaign has used what is called the Prospect Theory ( to encourage people to vote for Labor. But wait, hold on a minute…In these images, no where does it actually say “Vote Labor” as you would expect. This is because according to the Prospect theory, if you are in a ‘winning’ state of mind, or if things are neither good nor bad, you tend to be loss averse and stick with status quo instead of taking the risk of the new guy stuffing things up. However, if you are in a losing frame, or when things are not as good, you are risk seeking, and you would be looking for change – think Obama 2008.

So according to these ads, the prospect theory, and The Labor party, Australians must be in a pretty okay situation. And the clever marketing tactics employed here are working to heighten the feeling of risk in switching governments. Whether this risk is real or not is debateable. But voting, like many other decisions we make, can be influenced by these tactics which tap into the psychology of our decision-making.

Another thing we are noticing is that these campaigns are getting digital. A first in Australian election history, both candidates are heavily utilizing social media to tap into minds of over 12 million Australian Facebook or Twitter users. While Kevin Rudd, like Obama’s previous campaigns, actively exploits Twitter with 1,414,783 Followers, compared with Abbott’s 165,852 Followers, Tony Abbott tends to win Facebook battle with 229,775 “Likes” against his rival with only 114,671 “Likes.” Whether social media directly represents real voters’ preferences, it is clearly the most effective tool to engage with voters in real time.

What we can also see is the huge influence of Obama’s campaign on this Australian election race. It started with Kevin Rudd, who recruited a former strategist for Obama. This created a huge public and media backlash – while communicates restrictions for overseas professionals, he is more than happy to nab them for this election campaign. But the problem is as we see it, is that there are some unique skills, assets, and value that cannot be simply copied. We think, probably why Labor doesn’t go further than Twitter.

On the other side, Tony Abbott heavily exploits Obama’s strong roadshow campaigning. We can think of least two main public rallies in which he has been dressed up quite similar to Obama, with skinny suits and white shirts – your stylish political choice. But even more noticeably is how Abbott’s family is involved with his campaign. And it makes for great content. Forgetting policy and politics, it seems the Abbott daughters drum up much excitement and adoration from media and public alike.

In conclusion, we feel we are very lucky for not having to make a tough decision this election day. From a marketers point of view, we’ve been able to sit back, relax, and really take a critical eye to this year’s election campaigning.

 Elena Sveshnikova and Hongi Luo Current students in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School