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Heart: Four-ish Months In Review
Earlier this summer, I penned a post exclaiming that I was “quitting advertising”, and it caused a brief, and rather silly stir. We got some funny press, I got the pleasure of being misquoted, and the whole thing lasted for about one full rotation of the internet’s attention-cycle (roughly three days). By now, I’m sure that post, and I, have generally been forgotten.
But while that little bit of excitement has run it’s course, what we have set out to do with Heart, has not.
Our first four-ish months were a learning experience in so many ways. We stumbled face-first into some unique and profitable work, only to then fall backwards out of other equally unique, and potentially profitable jobs.
We made new friends and clients, we made some of our own furniture, and along the way, we made as many mistakes as we did interesting things.
Overall, it’s been an invaluable education, and one I wouldn’t trade for anything.
And as we head into the new year, we’ve gained a strength and excitement that will propel us forward. We have clarity of vision and a sense of purpose.
As one our our smart friends and mentors said, we’re “modern, lean, agile, unencumbered, honest, hungry, and idealistic”.
I couldn’t have chosen better words myself, so I just stole his.
Our refined focus in 2014 will be on our ability to create beautifully designed brand experiences - spanning digital, analog, and everything in-between.
We think there is massively rich opportunity to transform businesses by rethinking the way advertising dollars have traditionally been allocated. Viewing the standard marketing line-items as opportunities for long-term investment in the future, versus short-term expenses tied to the present.
We see the power and the possibility in brands that consider and choreograph every possible encounter into a single, beautifully designed narrative - regardless of format or channel.
We see the strength of experiences that come from aesthetic and communication systems, that ensure each moment between brand and person, is connected, thoughtful, and deliberate.
We see the continually disruptive nature of digital, and we have a deep love for the timelessness of the physical.
And we see the promise of a magical future that lies in our ability to literally connect the two.
As Claude Debussy said,
Music is the space between the notes.
Most of all, we’re excited to work with forward-looking, brave, challenger brands and people, that seek to define the future instead of trying to predict it.
A Return To (Actual) Social Media Humanity
Pick a brand. Any brand.
Now go to their Facebook page or Twitter feed and what do you see?
Maybe a car that’s rooting for a football team? Perhaps it’s a box of cereal that wants to know how your weekend was? Or it could be a stick of deodorant that’s curious to know what you thought of the Breaking Bad finale.
And it’s all fucking awkward.
Every last post.
Because we as marketers have somehow lost our way. We’ve somehow gotten comfortable with a set of social media “best practices” and “standards” that are as phony as they are foolish.
We’ve somehow bought into this silly idea that brands in social spaces, should act like people. That the key to success in social media is to “humanize” your brand, and it give it “a voice”.
And as a result, that’s what every ding-dong community manager and stuffed-shirt social media “expert” is doing.
They’re just clumsily attempting to animate brands like some fumble-thumbed puppeteers at the worst community theater puppet show you’ve ever seen.
Hence the awkwardness in a cup of coffee becoming sentient and asking you what you think of this weather, on Facebook.
Seriously. I barely want to talk to my human friends about the weather, let alone a faceless corporation.
But social media pros have been selling this bullshit approach for so long, that I think they’ve started to believe it themselves. Or maybe they legitimately don’t know any better. It’s hard to tell.
Either way, it’s time to stop the nonsense.
It’s time to stop writing tone guidelines, and internally coaching your community managers on how to make your ketchup or snow-tires or dog biscuits sound “approachable”, “quirky”, and “fun-loving”.
It’s time to stop hiding behind logos and stock photos, content calendars and platitudes.
It’s time to hire the right social media brand stewards, and then trust, empower, and elevate them to roles of front-facing prominence.
It’s time to stop saying “human” and start being human.
Because if you’re not prepared to put a face (an actual face) and name (an actual name) alongside your brand in social media, perhaps you shouldn’t be there at all.
That is what great products, great services and great advertising do brilliantly – they ensure that brands are always at the front of mind, not because of the recency of a brand experience but because of the longevity of a great brand experience.
Why ‘Always On’ Is Such A Turn Off
Credit Card Idea
I love credit card marketing.
The little tugs at human psychology, and the behavioral economic tricks that these companies use, are fascinating. The “History of the Credit Card" is one of my favorite pieces of media.
One of credit card marketing moves that I love most, is card personalization with photos.
The idea here is simple really. If you have three credit cards in your wallet, one American Airlines Mastercard, one Chase Rewards Visa, and another Capital One Visa with a photo of your kids on it, guess which one will be used most? That little bit of personalization, means top-of-wallet.
And top of wallet is what credit card companies are after most.
Now this would never happen, but my semi-evil idea for enhancement of this card personalization, would be to slowly fade out your kids photo (Back to the Future style), if you didn’t use your card enough. Keep using the card, and the photo stays sharp. Switch over to a different card, or slow your spending…and your photo fades away.
Five or six years ago, a standalone YouTube video or Facebook app could have been relatively successful. Today, marketers must plan social media activations in conjunction with above and below-the-line campaign media spending. Most brands have invested in creating platform presences (e.g. Twitter handles and Facebook pages) and can now leverage those ecosystems efficiently. Marketers that don’t integrate channels or leverage platform expertise will end up paying a lot more for results than the competition.
Peter Kim, chief strategy officer, Dachis Group.
Behind the scenes at a McDonald’s photo shoot
Awesome new Lego work from German agency Jung von Mat.
Long past its cool prime and far too large to be hip, Starbucks, by going all-in on digital, gets insight into the wants and needs of today’s connected consumers in a way that keeps the brand top of mind. What we have, then, is a technology-steeped version of Starbucks that’s equal parts power retailer and innovator.
Starbucks, the tech company
Premium pricing is rationalized in part by ensuring consumers’ awareness that real people are touching (or “curating”) the things they buy. Next to those beautiful $10 containers of fruit in the produce department, Whole Foods posts signs announcing that these goods are not only natural or organic, but were cut up by hand by real people named Miranda, Steve, or Bethina. To drive this personal touch home, Whole Foods features store employees’ names and sketches throughout the store on well-placed chalkboards.
How Whole Foods Became The Luxury Brand Of Millennials
Nike Digital Sport
Traditional ad spend down, in favor of more digital innovation and tracking/use of consumer data. Love everything about this.
But Digital Sport is not just about creating must-have sports gadgets. Getting so close to its consumers’ data holds exceptional promise for one of the world’s greatest marketers: It means it can follow them, build an online community for them, and forge a tighter relationship with them than ever before. It’s part of a bigger, broader effort to shift the bulk of Nike’s marketing efforts into the digital realm — and it marks the biggest change in Beaverton since the creation of just do it, or even since a graphic design student at Portland State University put pen to paper and created the Swoosh.
Nike’s new marketing mojo.
The Brilliant Marketing Of Diamonds
I was just talking about this with Brad last night. Now there is a great piece in The Atlantic, about DeBeers, and the history of the diamond’s place in love. Spoiler alert…it’s all in the marketing.
My favorite passage from the article:
De Beers needed a slogan for diamonds that expressed both the theme of romance and legitimacy. An N. W. Ayer copywriter came up with the caption “A Diamond Is Forever,” which was scrawled on the bottom of a picture of two young lovers on a honeymoon. Even though diamonds can in fact be shattered, chipped, discolored, or incinerated to ash, the concept of eternity perfectly captured the magical qualities that the advertising agency wanted to attribute to diamonds. Within a year, “A Diamond Is Forever” became the official motto of De Beers.
In 1951, N. W. Ayer found some resistance to its million-dollar publicity blitz. It noted in its annual strategy review:
The millions of brides and brides-to-be are subjected to at least two important pressures that work against the diamond engagement ring. Among the more prosperous, there is the sophisticated urge to be different as a means of being smart…. the lower-income groups would like to show more for the money than they can find in the diamond they can afford…
To remedy these problems, the advertising agency argued, “It is essential that these pressures be met by the constant publicity to show that only the diamond is everywhere accepted and recognized as the symbol of betrothal.”
Full article here.
Pictures of the ladies, apparently still work. Two out of the three ads I’m seeing on Facebook right now, use photos of cute girls. One is for a beekeeping kit (awful targeting btw) and the other is for content sourcing.
The perception gap between why businesses think users fan/like them, and why users ACTUALLY fan/like them. Via this great talk.