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DubaiEye103.8 FM: The “Happy Birthday, Mike!” approach to advertising

HBD-Mike2Happy Birthday, Mike. That’s how we opened the conversation on the Industry Insider segment on Drive Live on Sunday 29 May on DubaiEye103.8 FM.

Many have been ranting of late about the demise of mass marketing and how it’s a good thing. You know, where you think broadcasting your message on mass media will promote awareness to a wide audience. Of course, it’s a waste of money since when you try to talk to everyone, you’re likely to be relevant to no-one.

Well, I stumbled upon the apparently-well-known “Happy Birthday, Mike!” approach. Am sure you’ve heard about it in one guise or another:

This man walks up to you in the shopping mall. He looks like a good bloke, dressed a bit like the way your best friends dress when they are trying to impress. He comes up to you, like he knows you from way-back and you rack your brains trying to think how you know this guy. Imagine if he’s going to come up to you and say “Hey, James (or, rather, insert your name here!), it’s been ages, remember when…” and suddenly you do remember. Only this man doesn’t say that. He has all the same mannerisms but he says to you “Happy Birthday, Mike!”. Well (for the sake of this story) it’s not your birthday. And you’re not called Mike.

How do you feel about this man now? Well, I’d feel confused or perhaps suspicious he’s trying to flog me some product or service. Or maybe even steal my wallet.

And that’s the problem today. Brands are now spraying and praying Continue reading “DubaiEye103.8 FM: The “Happy Birthday, Mike!” approach to advertising”

“Moments of Serendipity” at an Uncomfortable Breakfast

TMSME_brekkieFurther to my piece published recently in Gulf News (see last blog post), here’s an update to the content at that event.

The Marketing Society Middle East sat down for it’s third “Uncomfortable Breakfast” to discuss the hot topic of data. You may ask why we call it such an off-putting name, “Uncomfortable Breakfast”.

It is, of course, a delicious breakfast held at an enviable establishment here in Dubai – such as the fabulous space we’ve been using for the past couple of events, the Armani Hotel.

The “uncomfortable” element is to find a topic that the marketing community knows is important but may not, en masse, discuss in an open forum regularly enough. For this reason there are no journalists present!

This forum brought together forty senior marketers with regional and local remits, and all came to hear more about the story behind data.

Today that’s the problem; we’re talking about data itself and not about the stories it can provide. Taking the latter approach, storytelling, Marilies Rumpold-Preining of IBM Commerce gave us some interesting insights: Continue reading ““Moments of Serendipity” at an Uncomfortable Breakfast”

Too much of an onus on big data?

 

Onus on data.png
This article was first published in Gulf News, Wed 9th March 2016

Last month I had the delight to be leading the Q&A at a gathering of 40 chief marketing officers and other big title-holders in Dubai. The premise for the gathering was an “uncomfortable breakfast”.

Now, if you’ve had breakfast at the Armani Hotel at the Burj Khalifa, it’s far from uncomfortable. But the topic was data-driven marketing. And that is pretty uncomfortable, especially since some of those present would have openly admitted they “know nothing” about data.

You see, that’s the problem: data is often unfairly awarded the epithet ‘big’.

It’s true that there is a lot of different sets of data in big business today. A company carries lots of data points that are easy to understand and use.

Sales data, web analytics, social media analytics, email databases, competitive research… and each of these sets tells a story. And the business analyses the story from a single data set, derives some insights and has a good idea how to do things differently.

Hopefully all companies can learn to conduct business differently over time. Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein have all been attributed the adage, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.” Continue reading “Too much of an onus on big data?”

The global reach of the small idea

This article first appeared in the Media Buzz column, GULF NEWS, 23 December 2015.JW_gulfnews_dec2015_v2

Across the UAE, one in three people uses their smartphone to buy products and services. That’s more than in many other countries.

As readers of this business section, what are we doing with this information? Actually, we’re doing well, we’re bringing our products and services online, onto the mobile web and producing great apps from which we can purchase said products and services.

We know that our audiences research online and are starting to buy more and more regularly online.

The UAE business community is providing its online consumers with banking, grocery shopping, the latest fashions, perfumes and consumer electronics. And if these consumers look hard enough they can find plenty of local garden furniture, barbeques and gazebos too.

Local offerings, when really sought after, can be found online.

But before we pat ourselves on the back too enthusiastically, we need to take a step back and realise that we’re building these beautiful, functional castles in the desert without taking as much care and attention to building the roads and signposts needed to find these castles.

Build it and they will come?

The ‘build it and they will come’ approach doesn’t work Continue reading “The global reach of the small idea”

2015 in review: change is coming in all directions

JW_GulfNews_Nov2015This article first appeared in GULF NEWS, 17 November 2015.

The recent news reports have not been pretty for those in advertising or media: marketers are demanding unprecedented transparency from their agencies and consumers are trying to turn off advertising.

It is time for change, but what does change look like?

Budgets are being slashed. For example, P&G, the world’s biggest advertiser, last month announced its quest to reduce expenditure on advertising by $200 million (Dh734.63). “We are strengthening marketing — greater reach, higher frequency, greater effectiveness, at less overall cost,” the CFO Jon Moeller announced. Savings would be used, he continued, “to invest in working media and sampling”.

Agencies are finding that even digital spends are not forthcoming. For example, the Publicis Groupe announced poor Q3 results, with CEO Maurice Levy declaring, “September showed zero growth due to numerous campaigns being postponed, mainly in digital operations. The level of cuts are surprisingly high and coming from many different advertisers from packaged goods, automotive and pharma.”

Marketers are all putting their media buying up for pitch. WPP, the world’s biggest agency group, Continue reading “2015 in review: change is coming in all directions”

Big Data Made Small: Automation and Gamification to the rescue

Taken from the intro to our presentation to the Market Research Society of Singapore to be held on 20th November.

Data represents a big business opportunity for the creative industries. In this presentation James and Graham examine how and why data should be embraced.

How do you photograph an elephant?

Just as the old saying goes, “What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time”, we will look at some cases where data has been used to build business and drive communications.

Many brands are now feeding data-driven stories to consumers who are hungry for relevant content. We will discuss just three examples. Continue reading “Big Data Made Small: Automation and Gamification to the rescue”

The future of digital is divisible by the seven simple tenets

Taken from the intro to our speech at Digital Asia Festival to be held in Beijing, 7&8 November.

The speakers announced at the Digital Asia Festival, Beijing. Nov 2012.

James and Paul, collectively, know what the future of digital needs. And it’s in seven parts. eMarketer tells us that this year, global digital ad spend is forecast to top $105 billion, with Asia-Pacific accounting for $27.63 billion after North America ($40.3 billion) and Western Europe ($28 billion). So how should we maximize this expenditure?

To this end, James and Paul will bring to life the seven simple tenets needed to succeed in today’s world of data-driven digital communications. The seven simple tenets are: Continue reading “The future of digital is divisible by the seven simple tenets”

Data-led creativity: more than just hype, it’s the future

Taken from my intro to the Media Innovation Group’s Spikes Forum:

Overview: Data represents a big business opportunity for the creative industry.

Talking about the light at the end of the tunnel…
“Big Data” is just a euphemism for “too much information to know what to do with it all”

When media teams became independent of their creative agency siblings, not only did the media revenue walk out the door of creative agencies, so did much of the detailed customer and media knowledge. Only the smarter creative agencies are working closely with audience data insights gleaned from media planning and buying across all sizes of project.

Meanwhile, marketers are finding all data slipping into the “Big Data” category; most marketers have access to masses of data and not the resources to do anything with it.

Soon in Asia Pacific, we will all be given much more access to data in more forms. But will we know what to do with it to make our communications more engaging, more exciting, more successful? Or will we just use data to push product more effectively? Continue reading “Data-led creativity: more than just hype, it’s the future”

Should ad agencies advertise?

In 2006 I was on a project at Patts Y&R in Melbourne. The now-famous Russel Howcroft had just been appointed as MD. The receptionist asked me what project I was working on. I explained that I was working for Russel and, with a senior account director called Tobi, helping them articulate today’s stories for the agency and to find ways to package them up and disseminate them to prospective clients. The receptionist’s summary was succinct:

You’re advertising the advertising agency!

I use that line nowadays when people ask me what I am doing for a living. But in reality, we all know an advertising agency seldom advertises itself. Not in the traditional sense of paid advertising.

When it comes to the paid-owned-earned media debate, agencies just don’t pay for advertising space. Hell, we’re bad enough with our owned media (how many out-of-date websites are there and/or offices ‘soon to be renovated’). And few agencies are fabulous at sparking the conversation in earned media (what percentage of agencies goes beyond PR-ing breaking campaigns, updating a Linkedin profile and the occasional tweets?). But this piece isn’t about owned and earned media, not today.

Well, we’ve all thought about our own advertising and debated it. And this came up again recently:

I found out the other day that Encore magazine is about to be revamped and, on top of its usual readership, it’ll be distributed among the 4,500 senior marketers on the Australian Marketing Institute’s database. And I bet the All-New Encore Magazine will enjoy heavy promotion to an even wider marketing community via its sister title, mumbrella.

And so I spoke to the Encore publishing team and was duly sent the media pack with the rate card.

As it happens Innocean, the agency where I work, will feature since another now-famous adman, Sean Cummins, will scrutinise our latest TV ad for Kia, part of a multimedia campaign for an irreverent brand.

Here lies the debate. Should we also advertise in the publication? Well, it’s too late now, we’ve missed the deadline. So, should we have advertised? And what would should have been our message?

My immediate reaction was YES, let’s advertise. A resounding YES. What’s more, I had a brilliant idea for the ad. Creatives all cringe when ‘suits’ get ideas for advertising executions. Especially when the suit says it’s brilliant! And so they should – here’s what I created on my (t)rusty old mac:

My objection to running ads like this is Continue reading “Should ad agencies advertise?”

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