Tag Archives: brand strategy

A marketing tip from Agent J

There’s a scene in the movie MIB that offers a valuable piece of insight.

When Officer Edwards (Will Smith’s character) of the NYPD turns up for his MIB recruitment interview, the competition is hot. The best of the best (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) are all in the room vying for a single position in the MIB.

The recruits face a series of tests (or two, so a short series).

Edwards gets the job.

Why not one of the highly-educated, combat-experienced and government-trained members of the military elite?
Read more »

No Elvis impersonators

no elvis impersonators
I have only one creative rule: no Elvis impersonators.

I was presented with a creative idea using Elvis impersonators once.  It wasn’t pretty.

Some Elvis impersonators pay genuine homage to The King, but in general most of them are parasites, profiting from his brand or at best, making fun of a great artist during a period in which he was truly troubled (in fact I view Elvis impersonators in much the same way as politicians in that they probably get into it for the right reasons but eventually lose sight of why, though now I’m really off the track).

Other than that one rule, all ideas are game on as far as I’m concerned because creative daring is essential for breaking free from the clutter to get your story told and heard.
Read more »

I’m on a horse…

Old Spice’s Man Your Man Could Smell Like won big at Cannes and must surely go down as one of the best ads ever made.  Russel Howcroft was right when, on a recent Gruen Transfer episode he said that it was an entirely new idea and that’s why it was so good.

Here’s that winning ad, along with another in the series in case you thought the first was too good to be repeated.

Apart from being an original idea, the reasons these ads are so good is hard to pin down, which in-itself is part of their appeal (the ability to analyse something is harder when it makes you smile as broadly as these do).  The fact that it’s a one-shot ad, the unexpectedness of what happens during that 30-second piece of film, the surprising climax, the writing (which is brilliant) or the perfectly-cast, strategically-intrinsic talent (and his perfect delivery of a sharp, idea-rich script) are all elements that combine together to deliver advertising gold.

That the idea works to engage fans, position the brand and spread awareness like a grass-fire is without question and so whether it works to sell the product will be measured by how much, not if.

One insight is in how Old Spice have continued with a brand campaign that started years ago, maintaining core elements and refreshing it beautifully with the new Man your Man could smell like campaign.  It proves that it’s possible to refresh a brand and in fact make it even stronger without de-stabilising its position by tearing away at its heart.

Take a look at this ad from a few years ago (again, one of a series), which includes – among other things – the now almost certainly recognisable whistle (triggering memory), along with the unexpectedness and surprise of the current campaign.

On the current ads alone, I’m certain that this strategy would’ve been a raging success and besides, how do you follow up on something so good?

Well it seems they have and the other great insight is in how the campaign has been followed up, extended and strengthened so that now, not only are fans who saw the ad still talking about it, they’re now engaging with the brand via an equally well executed digital strategy.

The Man your Man could smell like is, although brilliantly personified by Isaiah Mustafa, a character.  He’s a creation born of the creative idea and while not the brand is the perfect charcterisation of a) the man your man could smell like and b) the man you could be like if using Old Spice.

That hasn’t stopped Old Spice putting The Man on Twitter and Facebook though, linking through to a YouTube channel and having him post video responses to questions he posed by followers.

The responses, predictably, are written and delivered with the same sharpness as the ads. The idea that The Man is waiting in front of a HD digicam, waiting for tweets and wall posts so he can record a response is a temptation too big to ignore for many of the fans. The level of interactivity going on here is unbelievable (as I write, the Twitter account has almost 30,000 followers in a day and a thousand of those were added just now) and each one of these interactions makes the brand more memorable.

Brands often fail on delivering promises.  If The Man’s promise is anything to go by then Old Spice are true because there’s an ever-growing number of video responses stacking up, all personally addressed to the questioner by The Man.

Before this latest tactic I was wondering if it was unreasonable to think that Old Spice might be objectifying men with The Man ads, given the current debate over the objectification of women in advertising.

For the record, I never thought they did (and wouldn’t have cared anyway) though now I am certain that this strategy should go down in the casebook of how to do integrated marketing, truly engage with your fans and get it right.

Go here and start picking up tips @OldSpice.

All of something or a little bit of everything?

So, you’re cracking along with 2010 and a new decade, sitting down to plan the marketing & promotional assault that’ll see your brand, business or franchise climb higher.

Money’s a bit tight, confidence is still a little weak and so you need to stretch your marketing budget (because you have one, right?) as far as possible and invite consumer engagement with your thing.

In the past you run some ads, maybe some PR, product sampling (giving stuff away for free), maybe a sponsorship and tried out two-for-one or % discount offers but now you can’t really afford to do everything you did in the past (while you can’t really afford not to; the great business balancing act).

There are plenty of creative, production and media agencies who’ll willingly take your money, but who should get it?  Does what you’re doing still invite and entertain your market?  Are your customers still engaged and motivated?  What strategy and tactics will attract the most attention in the future?  What stories should I tell?

You’re faced with a dilemma; do I cut down a little on everything or stop doing something altogether?

I’d always suggest thinking twice about killing something altogether.  It might be like unhooking the link of a chain; you’ll find the machine doesn’t work at all and a good marketing strategy should make use of several channels.

Before making any decisions, look at your market and how it’s changing, what’s changing and where you can have a louder, clearer voice that matches your brand position.  Talk to your agencies and service providers about your ideas on what to do and where.  Make sure they (and you) understand what you want to achieve.  Above all, know your edge because that’s the one thing nobody else can own.  It’s hard to go wrong marketing your edge.

Do that and the decision on where and how to spend your marketing budget will start to become a whole lot clearer.

The secret to success isn’t in what you know

You know your business better than anyone.

You know why you’re in business to start with.

You know your brand, why it’s named what it is, why you chose the visual identity you did and what you want it to stand for.

You know your product or service, it’s value, what it can do and how it fulfils a customer need or want.

You know your customers, the market and what turns them on to your value proposition for satisfaction of their needs or wants.

You know what you want from your business in return for the investment you make now, next week, next month, next year or next decade.

Essentially, as far as what your business needs to succeed, it’s a strong argument that nobody knows more than you, even if you might need a little expertise to help you to realise your goals.

Except maybe for your competitors.

That’s because the secret isn’t in what needs to be done.  What needs to be done is on show and the framework is the same for everybody.  The secret is in how you do what you need to do to make your brand & business remarkable, memorable and a mandatory stop for your searching customers.

So what are you waiting for?  Get busy and get on with telling your story, right now and for as long as it takes to carve out your unique position.

Happy New Year, decade, and all the best for achieving your goals before your competitors do.

Expected error?

I got one of those messages today.  The kind that disrupts your day by disconnecting the flow of work or information:

“An unexpected error has occurred”.

That got me thinking.  Is there any other kind of error?  Where are all the expected errors (the ones that obviously exist, because these messages always seem at pains to tell you that the error is, in fact, unexpected)?  What happens in the machine to cause an unexpected error?  Why don’t I ever get a message that says “sorry, we expected that error.  It must be you”?

The answer is, of course, that I’ll never get one of those because, when an error does occur, it should be completely unexpected, and completely reversible.

When you’re developing strategy to grow your business, especially around customer experience and brand strategy, you’d better make sure that you’re on top of where errors can occur.  If they’re unexpected, deal with them right away; no delay.  If they’re expected, why are they even there in the first place?  Should you have implemented a model that has the potential for expected errors, even if it has a cost-saving?

Is that really the message you want your customers to get?