Tag Archives: Branding

Advertising is Dead: Long Live Engagement.

OK, so advertising is not actually ‘dead’; however it’s syntactical position as the exclamation mark or full-stop in a campaign has been usurped by the genuine need to engage and interact with consumers.

It’s interesting to see how different brands, different businesses and different sectors are employing this need to engage with their customers.  This weekend, I visited Tesco as usual to carry out the weekly food shop, when the following piece of in-store signage caught my eye:

This signage struck me for a number of reasons:

i) It blurs the boundaries between the offline shopping experience and online engagement.  Supermarkets have traditionally bombarded us with in-store signage in order to tempt us with special offers and multi-buys.  However, this piece of advertising clearly goes beyond that and considers the shopper long after they have left the store.

ii) The QR code is a nice touch – it allows smartphone users to access more information (and thus, engage more deeply) with the brand right there and then.  My only criticism is that the social media handles are not signposted clearly for those who do not use QR codes – an ‘@Tesco’ for example would allow customers to search specifically when they got home.

iii) There is an opportunity for genuine two-way interaction and engagement – customers are asked to submit their own recipe and get involved with Tesco’s new venture, the Real Food TV show.

iv) The platform on Facebook itself is innovative, dynamic and adds value, offering a place to compile and view recipes.  Not only is this a nice tool in itself, but it offers clear potential for several repeat visits.

v) It ties in with Tesco’s key business – the app details food that is ‘in season’ etc., providing a clear call-to-action for consumers to return back to the store and spend money.

In a previous post, we saw how Facebook’s marketers are talking about the new cycle of social engagement, and this piece of social marketing activity adheres to each step in that cycle:

AWARENESS: In-store signage
INTEREST: Competition mechanic and recipe feature
DECISION: QR codes and social channels visited
ACTION: Interaction with the application online
RECOMMENDATION: The ability to share / tweet tool with friends

Engagement is not solely the preserve of social media channels, as we saw in my recent ‘Social Media is a Budweiser Bottle’ blog post.  Social media undoubtedly acts as the platform in which brands can engage consumers more deeply than ever before, but successful brand engagement is an integrated phenomenon.

And this first-class example from Tesco highlights how the offline and online channels are becoming ever more intertwined.


The Imperial War Museum’s Social Media Artillery

It’s always nice to see brands executing social media strategies fantastically.  The fact that we notice ‘good’ examples is perhaps testament to the fact that so many brands are still struggling with social strategy.  Nevertheless, much can be learnt from those performing well, of which the Imperial War Museum is most definitely one.

I recently started following the IWM on Twitter. I did so after a friend re-tweeted some content of theirs, which I found interesting, pursued and subsequently visited their website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.  This example clearly pays testament to the brand marketing power of Twitter, but alas; I digress.

In those social channels, I found some brilliant examples of great social media marketing.  The reasons these were so impressive can be attributed to the fact that all of these platforms adhered to the following cornerstones of social media:

i) Adding value – giving consumers / brand advocates a reason to engage with your social presence through exclusive content
ii) Facilitating UGC (user-generated content) and allowing consumers to contribute to the ‘brand’

The brand’s YouTube channel is featuring four videos for LGBT month, ‘Military Pride’, highlighting the personal experiences of four gay servicemen.  This clearly ties into a topical national event (LGBT month) whilst relating back to the museum’s raison d’être.

The content is engaging, eye-opening and of real interest and of course, offers ‘fans’, advocates and enthusiasts access to exclusive, relevant content.

The second piece of social media activity that caught my eye was the museum’s ‘Beauty and the Belfast’ competition.  Users are encouraged to ‘find beauty’ on London’s iconic HMS Belfast and submit their photographs to the brand’s Flickr page, with the winner receiving a private guided tour on the 67th anniversary of D-Day this June.

Again, this utilises social media channels (Flickr) in an innovative fashion, all the while encouraging audience participation and relating the whole project back to relevant, on-brand topics.

Finally, the museum’s excellent Twitter feed manages to highlight useful pieces of historical information, publish news about attractions and deal with customer queries in an unobtrusive, informative and engaging fashion – Twitter nirvana.

So what can we learn from the Imperial War Museum’s social media artillery?

•    Genuine social media kudos is leveraged through authentic interaction, engagement and participation
•    Your customers are your fans – social media should be a platform for advocates to engage with, not a channel for one-way communications
•    Social media should always be relevant, on-brand and topical – anything else is just noise

If we all followed the Imperial War Museum’s example, how refreshing – and engaging – would social media be?  This iconic museum is taking audience interaction and engagement to a new, unprecedented level of authenticity.

I, for one, look forward to seeing more brands do the same.

Raising a Glass to Jim Beam’s Social Media Strategy

I’m no more ‘qualified’ to critique an ad than the next marketer, but I am a consumer – and it being Valentine’s Day, have fallen firmly in love with this new spot for Jim Beam, ‘Bold Choice’:

If you’re like me, the moody black and white film, emotive acting and poignant message can’t fail to impress.  Big advertising has always sold people a lifestyle rather than a product and this is no different (although Jim Beam does happen to be my favourite bourbon).

But take a look at Jim Beam’s social media sites – Facebook, Twitter – they all continue the conversation that the ad started.

On Facebook we are encouraged to click ‘like’ and ‘make a bold bhoice’.  There’s a bespoke tab that encourages us to get involved and chart ‘bold choices’ we’ve made to put our towns on the map.

The brand’s Twitter feed is engaging with its community asking for ‘bold decisions’, the best of which will be re-tweeted and shared with the community.

Let’s look past the marketing psychology here – we all know that Jim Beam is a whiskey plain and simple.  As consumers, we all suspend disbelief in order to make sense of the capitalist society we operate in.

But this superb digital integration shows how social media is not simply ‘a’ thing that sits somewhere on Facebook or Twitter and pumps out one-way marketing spiel: it’s a living, breathing marketing tool that is a vital part of a healthy integrated marketing strategy.

Sure, social media has its own unique modus operandi, challenges and conventions.  But aligning your social media strategy to overall digital – and offline – marketing strategy is vital to marketing success.

Jim Beam seems to have got this spot-on – is it too much of a pun to say I’ll raise a glass to that?

Tweeting as a Brand? Get it RIGHT.

Trawl the Twittersphere and you’ll come across a plethora of branded Twitter accounts, from players as big as Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and The Body Shop to small local businesses, boutique shops and niche agencies.

However, despite the exponential marketing and branding opportunities presented by Twitter, it can also damage your brand if handled incorrectly.

Yes, social media is a dynamic, evolving entity – but if using social media channels for marketing purposes, one still has to adhere to effective marketing practices.  Here three of my very simple ‘dos and don’ts’ when tweeting as a brand:

i) ‘You’ is no longer ‘you’ – ‘you’ is the brand

Sounds obvious, but many people overlook this fundamental point.  Yes, we are all adult and understand that there is ‘a person’ constructing these tweets, but the content needs to be written from the brand’s perspective.

As a lover of literature, I follow many publishers on Twitter.  One of the brands with a rich heritage consistently tweets what ‘they’ are looking forward to cake that afternoon, that ‘they’ are reading a current book.

People are following the brand because they have an affinity with that brand, its products and its offerings – not because they want to know what the Marketing Executive is up to that evening.

ii) Txt spk is lk, SO nt kool.

Again, sounds obvious, but colloquial ‘text’ speak is not acceptable.  As a social media marketer, I fully acknowledge the difficulty in conveying lots of information in 140 characters – including a link!

However, shortening a sentence or rethinking your copy is worth the effort.  Sortening every word ‘2 mak it al ft in’ looks unprofessional, shoddy and as if it’s been texted in by a teenager.

Remember to convey your business in the best possible light – and professional language is very much a part of this.  The channel may be different – but your message is not.  Stay on-brand.

iii) Are you following me?

I could write a whole blog post on this – and probably will!  But the true beauty of social media is its transparency, honesty and credibility.  Of course, you want a large following immediately, but trawling through potential ‘followees’ and following them in the hope of a follow is simply not ‘cool’.

There are many programmes that allow Twitter users to ‘auto follow’ people who tweet certain words – for example, if I ran a biscuit business, I could choose to follow the next 100 people who tweeted the word ‘cookie’.  But what does this achieve?

Many brands going down this route end up following 8,000 people, while only 300 people are following them.  This smacks of desperation and loses credibility in the eyes of savvy social media users – the people you are trying to attract.  Try and focus on engaging and connecting with people organically.  Yes, it may take a while to build up a loyal following, but the patience will be rewarded tenfold by engaged customers and authentic conversations.


You can see my tweets (as brand ‘me’!) over @callumsaunders

A bad day for Kenneth Cole, NOT social media.

Here we go again – someone at Kenneth Cole exercises extremely poor judgement and decides to promote a new fashion collection using the concerning events in Egypt as a topical hook:

Now you don’t really need me to wade in on the whole Kenneth Cole debate: the Internet is awash with angry reactions to this highly insensitive tweet.  However, I do feel that it’s important to point out that this whole episode is NOT an example of how social media is ‘bad’.

A large number of people have already jumped on the anti-social media bandwagon, saying that this exemplifies how ‘dangerous’ social media can be; how a bad tweet can royally mess up your PR for the next 12 months.

However, social media is NOT to blame.

The real danger here is allowing uneducated people access to your brand communications.  Yes, social media is about transparency and authenticity, but it’s also a form of marketing and requires the same discipline, thought and care as any other form of PR.

Social media is unique, but those of us in social media marketing have to be aware that we are also brand guardians.

A bad day for Kenneth Cole and the intern / marketer that is no doubt updating their LinkedIn profile and CV as we speak.  But NOT a bad day for social media.

Social Media: Time to DEFINE What You Want.

Take my fiancé’s voice.  It can be used to whisper tender sentiments that warm my heart, or, more frequently, to express irritation that I haven’t hung up the bath mat / put the washing out / hoovered up properly / {insert suitable misdemeanour here}…

As my German teacher continually used to tell me, I’m being facetious.  But the fact remains, that social media is very much like my girlfriend’s voice.  Why?  Because it too has many different uses – and this truth is something that simply has to become embedded in the minds of companies seeking to use social media effectively.

It’s 2011 and if we take a snapshot of the corporate / consumer landscape, it’s evident that many brands are starting, slowly, to ‘get’ social media – and, more pertinently, get it right.  But there still exists a plethora of brands who find themselves asking for resources to ‘do social media’, yet remain unsure of what they want social media to achieve.

Here is my list of social media differentiation:

i) Branding

Want to get yourself noticed?  Engage and interact with your consumers, clients, customers?  Build subcultural capital?  Grow brand awareness with your target audience.  Social media is a valid catalyst that will get your brand noticed by more people, in the channels they choose to be reached in.  Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Wikis, LinkedIn, podcasts, YouTube, Flickr – the key is to be amongst your target audience, be interested in the things they like and show them that they need to invest in your brand as consumers.

We live in an age of permission marketing – your target audience won’t grant you permission unless you can show them that you share their interests.

ii) Commerce

This point ties neatly in with the argument put forward by naysayers who claim social media offers no ROI.  Quite frankly, this is spurious nonsense.  Of course, Dell is the ‘ROI posterboy’, posting sales figures of $3m dollars (& that was June 2009!) directly through its Twitter account, @DellOutlet.

From a branding perspective, measuring branding through any channel (print, press, posters, TV adverts etc.) is difficult to say the least.  But when it comes down to cold, hard, digital e-commerce, the fact is, digital marketers can choose from a wealth of analytics packages to track sales sources.  And more pertinently, social media channels are a great way to reach consumers who may not visit your traditional outlets, be they physical, websites or email.

iii) Customer Service

And this is one that is fast outstripping traditional methods.  Five years ago, a disgruntled customer would submit a form on a website, with their query / complaint / demands being whisked off electronically to some virtual email black hole.  A week later, a customer service representative may get round to opening your email and issuing a ‘case number’, but the fact remains, this has taken too long in the consumer’s mind.

Take social media – especially Twitter.  A complaint aired socially can be picked up instantly by a team of social media customer service staff.  Instant replies offering direct phone numbers, website pages for help, details of someone to contact, money-off deals or compensation are fast becoming the norm.  I grumbled about BT on Twitter regarding what was clearly an erroneous bill.  Within a few minutes, I had received an @reply asking for more details, was asked for my phone number and called up then and there.  The issue was resolved within 10 minutes.  A bad situation turned into a happy consumer – all from a tweet.


Those of you that are au fait with social media (and are still reading!) will no doubt be aware of these three basic different uses.  But the point I wish to make is thus:

Social media in itself is not ‘a strategy’ or ‘a solution’. Like anything, it needs strategy, purpose and alignment with business objectives.  If more companies are looking to invest in social media, that can only be a good thing – but these businesses must define the purpose of their social media engagement in order to ensure that it is effective.

You can find me moaning about utilities companies on Twitter right here: @callumsaunders

CC image courtesy of Kelsey Ohman (kmohman) on Flickr.

‘New’ Old Spice: an Oxymoron & a Fantastic Campaign…

Brut; socks; photo frames; awful jumpers – add an Old Spice gift set to this time-tested collective, and you complete the catalogue of gifts that have long been the staple preserve of unimaginative aunties and uncles worldwide.

And you know what?  I know I’m not the only one who receives these exact same goods year in and year out.  True; I’m guaranteed to smell good for a few months, but in terms of brand perception, these safe staples of seasonal giving have about as much credibility as Nick Clegg since he became David Cameron’s office intern.

So what is a brand to do?  Well, if you’re Old Spice, the logical modus operandi would be to call up top marketing agency Wieden & Kennedy and ask them to revamp, re-brand and resuscitate the Old Spice brand with a balls-out, bold and brilliant marketing campaign – and that’s exactly what they did.

Those of you that work in the industry will no doubt have been following the events in Cannes last week, in which Wieden & Kennedy Portland won the Cannes Film Lions Grand Prix for its ‘The man your man could smell like’ Old Spice advert:

As a marketing and advertising professional, it’s always fascinating to see new life breathed into an established brand, especially with a TV spot as original as this one.  However, the growing success of this campaign, and subsequently of Old Spice’s brand perception, has been the truly integrated nature of the marketing activity.  Hot on the heels of the Cannes win, Old Spice has pushed out an ATL press campaign with the same personality as in the TV advert:

This looks set to be a long-running and indeed, extremely successful campaign for the Old Spice brand and its manufacturers, Proctor and Gamble. So many people outside of the Marketing industry remain sceptical about the power of branding, but this latest example is surely testament to the power of marketing.

Wieden & Kennedy should be applauded for tackling a difficult brief and coming out smelling of roses – or at the very least, like the man your man could smell like.