Sep 20

Women’s Leadership Network: Nicola Mendelsohn

My employee’s parent company, IPG, has established a London ‘chapter’ (yes, it’s American) of its Women’s Leadership Network, which has proven successful in the US. After an initial kickoff meeting, to discuss mission and values and all of that stuff, they ran their first general event yesterday, with a talk by Nicola Mendelsohn, who is currently President of the IPA and Exec Chair of Kamarama. The title of her speech was ‘what she wished she knew when she was 20’ and it came down to 10 great tips for getting ahead in your career, regardless of your age.

  • Understand the power of the network. You never know when someone could help you. So help others, make connections and keep them. Don’t burn your bridges, as you never know when that could be a problem
  • Love what you do. You do best when doing things that you love. You have to be passionate about your work, otherwise, why do you do it?
  • Celebrate your differences. Not everyone is the same, likes the same things, does the same things. How can you make something of that
  • Get the right work/life balance. Nicola works 4 days/week, she has a strong focus on her family and that will always come first for her. Other people are different. You have to balance the day job with other activities
  • Find yourself some great mentors. It doesn’t have to be just one. different people can provide different types of advice. You can have many at the same time, or sequentially. Make sure you know what they can offer. It’s useful to have someone who is a few levels higher than you
  • Be confident. Essential. Act confident and you will be confident. You have to project that you know what you are doing as perception is everything. Confidence is essential for leadership.
  • Don’t expect everyone to like you. Why should they – you don’t necessarily like everyone. You will have to do things sometimes and people won’t like you for it.
  • Challenge. And take risks. Why just live with the status quo, why just expect things to be the same. And without risks, you’ll never learn, never get the unexpected.
  • Always be learning. Learning is a lifelong habit. Know new stuff and be curious. And don’t be afraid to fail, as that’s just more chances to learn.
  • Be true to yourself. You are what you are. Don’t be someone else.

After the talk, there was a general panel and one of the topics was about being ‘boardroom ready’. In advertising/marketing, only about 12% of the C-level roles are female, even if as an industry it’s pretty forward looking and with a high proportion of women at the lower levels. A challenge was to make yourself boardroom ready. So look for opportunities to know more of the business side, the financials, to help make yourself ready

overall, a good first event, looking forward to the next one.

Mar 05

Travels and ad videos

I’m off to SXSW tomorrow, to have fun, to do a little speaking and to take some videos. I’ve decided to do a wee video series, asking people what their favourite marketing campaign is at the moment. I’ve been using qik on the N95, which I won’t be able to use in the US, so probably moving the stuff to blip for that – in fact, I’ve used Blip to do this embed.

Fist up is Jo, who describes her faves. You’ll have to ignore the starts of the videos – I’m sure I’ll learn to edit soon!

Then lloyd, who tries but fails to think of any favourites.

Sep 24

Advertising or Subscription

I just twittered that I was off to the IAB MIXX conference today and Tom Morris responded, (only partly tongue-in-cheek) that he thought they’d been replaced by Ad Block. Which leads me to my question. If, hypothetically, we all had Ad Block so that no ads were served how much would you pay for your services, starting from Google Search, Gmail and other services, including Yahoo and 1000s’ of other small services that are ad supported. As a starting point, I pay $25/year for Flickr, for additional services and no ads. I’d probably pay the same for Gmail – but is search worth more or less?

Aug 18

Mahalo for my sister

Mahalo is brilliant, or so says my sister. That’s what she thought when she took a look at it after looking at Twitters about it. When I asked why she thought that, here’s what she said.

Wow – now I do not have to spend hours searching for things on the Web – I can just ask MAHALO – one human powered search engine that will find the best pages for you. This is a genius concept that will move Web research in to a new dimension. Interesting to see that “I am not a plastic bag” is in the top 20 searches for today – What are you then?
I wonder…….If I ask them to research an assignment heading – do you think they would write it for me? NO, I thought not.

Unlike the majority of people at Gnomedex, she’s not a heavy user of the web. She reads my blog, uses Twitter occasionally after reading my writings about it. She, and the rest of the family, use the net for email, as a tool to find and buy things, not as an essential part of their social network or as a creative source. As far as I know, none of them are on any SN site. There’s not necessarily the same web savviness and understanding of the crap that is out there as there is with someone who works in the space or uses it extensively. So having a search engine that provides good stuff helps in finding things.

Jayne was prompted to take a look at the service after I twittered about Air Hawaii saying the word Mahalo after every announcement and Aaron commenting back that this was airport spam, instead of the conference spam that Jason Calacanis had been accused of at Gnomedex a few days earlier.

There’s a whole lot been said about Jason’s talk at the conference and how it too much like a sales push. Although I’m surprised that anyone thought that the company would not be mentioned there were side bets in the chat about how far into the talk he would mention the company. Anyone who reads the blog or has seem him speak would expect that – it’s what he does to push whatever he is working on at the time. In the talk, a problem was presented, Jason’s version of a solution was suggested and then it was opened up for questions. How was that different to the talk about JibJab or JustinTV which were all about the product? I think in this case it was all about the expectation and the presentation. It was expected that he would sell, so when he did, that got a reaction. I’ve seen far worse promotional talks from sponsors and speakers that did nothing but lecture; at least this one opened up the discussion. So read all about it, watch the video and make up your own mind.

Feb 27

Color Showdown is here

Shameless plug for a site and campaign I’ve been working on, but check out* from Sunsilk for some fun stuff.

Colour Showdown

The site taps into the blondes vs brunettes war (you don’t think it’s a war – take a look a the MySpace groups!). Not sure how many of the target audience read this, but if you are, you can do the following:

  • watch videos – the TV spots, behind the scenes, jokes (send your friend a joke video)
  • see results of our ‘secret experiments’, currently it’s who eats healthiest, but we have a few more to come.
  • read all about the product and see how it works (look out for the easter egg)
  • answer polls, get stuff for you website, download wallpaper and AIM icons and (soon) play games

Throughout the site, you earn points for your side, so go and take a look and click around the brunette side, more points for us 😉

The campaign is not just the website, that is just the first stage and there is a lot more to come. The TV breaks tonight.

*The number of times I have to retype that ‘correct’ the right spelling is getting annoying.

Feb 20

Don’t forget the pancakes on Jif Lemon Day

An example of a ad slogan that got into my brain years ago and has never left. But today, there’s almost nothing ‘official’ on the web about this, the only bit being on Unilever’s corporate site; so you just have to look up everyone talking about the day and not the company – or complaining that the company have not put out any adverts to remind them! There’s a nice little analysis of the meme on IanVisits, so not going to repeat it.

It’s Shrove Tuesday, time to break out the eggs, flour and milk and whip up a batch of nice, thin pancakes to go with the lemon and sugar.

Jan 25

Domino’s Anything Goes – Tracking a video

This is now back…some changes but nothing substantial.

One of the projects I’ve been working on, at least from a metrics and tracking perspective, is a US campaign for Domino’s Pizza: Anything Goes, any large pizza, any topping any crust for $9.99. Supported by a heavy TV promotion, in-store, email, SMS, online advertising, all the usual stuff, it also had an unusual contest and teaser video component.

The concept behind the online promotion is that anything goes for $9.99. So for 5 weeks, starting 1 Jan, Dominos have been auctioning items on eBay for $9.99. From ipods to video cameras to home entertainment systems everything was the one price. It was set up as an Buy it Now auction; to find the items, a clue was posted everyday on the microsite that when solved gave the keywords associated with the auction page and you were told within what time period the items would be posted. There was a lot of commetary about it within the eBay community as well, as this was a new thing for the service to participate in.

There were also 4 big prizes. With each of these, there is an associated set of videos that tell a story that leads up to why the item is being sold. The first one went up 15 Jan, 2 weeks before the campaign was launched, in 3 video channels (YT, metacafe, AOL Uncut). So, meet Mackenzie.

Mackenzie is a sweet (!) 16 year whose father bought her the wrong colour car for her birthday. Looking at her videos, you eventually find out that she gets the car that she wants and she puts her Saab convertible up on ebay to sell it. And it went pretty quickly – see the winner here. A second series set up the sale of a big screen TV and there are 2 more that went up this week, one for a Harley Davidson and one for one last big surprise. (the big surprise was a Lotus car)

So that’s the campaign, let’s take a look a little closer at Mackenzie. Her behaviour drove a lot of comments, most people condemning her at various levels of politeness (it definitely brought out the worst online attitude in some people). And the views that the series for, especially the first one, were OK but not spectacular. That was until it was ‘borrowed’ – downloaded from one of the services and reposted. If any of the initial re-posters credited their source, I could not find it, which again indicates an interesting attitude. We found it first on YouTube, then Break, then 4 other sites and saw the views really stack up. Break has by far got the most views that we can count. It may be in many other places that we’ve not found yet.

The pinnacle has been appearing on the front page of AOL, on their video blog,(where it is the most commented at the moment) making their top viral video and being picked as video of the day. If only we could get the viewing numbers!

Mackenzie on AOL

Interestingly, AOL got the video from iFilm. Now, none of these reposts are branded, although the connection is normally made in the comments. But the company is still getting the benefit, being able to talk about the success in press and on TV.

Some lessons from this:

  • Don’t be surprised how long it takes for something to take off. Most views on the videos have taken place after the auctions are complete, items can have a slow burn
  • Be prepared for the comments. Once it’s out on the web, people can say anything. However, comments were closed on the video with the winner in it – there’s a difference between a character and a prize winner.
  • Don’t expect success with everything, even if the creative team is the same. Mackenzie did well, Rich man not so much. It’ll be a few weeks before we now the results of the last 2 sets.
  • Don’t be surprised when things are taken and not credited to you. Work out how to make that a success as well

After that, I’m back to recording video views.

Jan 10

The advertising world and the new web

Hugh is offering to help solve the conundrum of meshing big, corporate business advertising as performed by the big corporate advertising agencies with the world that is Web2.0. He has a solution he’s willing to offer you for $100k. And if I had the cash, I might have taken him up on the offer, given the success he’s having with Stormhoek, English Cut and others.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep plugging away here, hopefully breaking down a few barriers and making small steps into moving the big clients closer to a different way of using the web. I mentioned fear in my comment and sometimes this has a real foundation beyond the fear of lack of control. Previous skirmishes fought, previous damage to reputations mean the drawbridges are just harder to get down, especially in a litigious environment. But opening peoples eyes to what is out there about their brand, surprising them with all the positive stuff (remember the bloggers and the boards are not just negative) helps them on their way. You have to find the chink in the armour, the first steps that they are comfortable with before you can jump all the way head first into pool.

Update: an interesting survey from Sapient underlines the mistrust that CMO’s have with the big agencies doing digital as well, with only 10% believing the traditional agencies can move into interactive. The six key (aggregated) attributes are:

  • 1. Quality of Creative Content
  • 2. Innovation and Strategic Value
  • 3. Price/Cost
  • 4. Sophisticated Analytics and Measurement Systems
  • 5. Proficiency in Emerging, Interactive or Digital Media
  • 6. Traditional Print, Offline and Media Buying Services

Interactive is now ranking higher than the traditional stuff.

Nov 30

Vaio Viral

This set of games has to be one of the most addictive I’ve seen. But to you by Kempt for Sony Viao, it just takes the form of one game after another. All short and suite, some of them incomprehensible (you click and something happens) it just keeps you onthe page with all the different things. The email announcing it says the time spent is over treble the industry average. I can well believe it – it is so addictive.


And I was planning on writing a post about how all the virals I’ve been pointed to over the last few weeks have a similarity to them. This one, not so much and I love it.

Nov 09


The agency where I work have been busy producing a series of 2-3min shorts, called Lovebites, that are being shown 5x/week in TBS here in the US, in partnership with Sunsilk. They focus on the life of a 25yo as she develops a relationship with her new man. A few episodes were filmed that would never make it onto US telly, so can be found on the website and the video sites, covering such topics as spanking, male fake orgasms and shared shaving.

Nov 07

Million Dollar Spaceship

The Million Dollar Homepage was successful and was immediately followed by plenty of imitators, none of whom achieved the same notoriety. No-one had a really new take on it. But now I think we have one in Your Name into Space.

MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and the Georgia Institute of Technology Space Systems Design Lab are designing a satellite which will be launched into space in 2010. To support the development they are selling advertising on the satellite, at 1cm3 spaces.

In return for your donation (tax-deductible of course) you will either get a photo of the logo from space. If you spend the big bucks and get a place inside, you’ll get back the piece of the satellite. Anybody looking for an unusual Christmas present?

YNIS Satellite

Oct 31

IAB – Taking Control of UGC

Bad, bad title. Setting up everyone to believe you can take control of the masses out there. As was acknowledged eventually in the panel conversation, taking control is out of the question but it seems that none of the panel had questioned the title in preparation. Again, this is taken from rapidly scribbled notes.
The panel were:

Stacey: What is an operational defintition of UGC?

John: It means different things to different people. It’s a community environment; it’s not new – message boards, newsgroups are all UGC.

Dean: It’s content, of multiple medias, designed by non-paid professionals or amateurs. ie they are not paid by a company/agency to produce the stuff.

Mary: HP looks at UGC the way dean defines it.

Stacey: Is UGC and consumer control putting pressure on the marketeer?

Mary: Yes. we are not used to giving up control. have to let go and accept that users have a voice. Teams have to change tack from push to pull. It is a different mindset for 90% of the work.

Stacey: Are publishers changing their mindset?

John: Yes. It is a major paradigm shift.You have to deliver something unique, create a reason for the user to engage. It’s collaborative; as a publisher have to tak to clients. It’s more of a challenge, more creative.

Stacey: Could collaborative processes become best practices in the ‘traditional’ properties with Fox, as traditional becomes more digital?

John: At the end of the day digital is the sizzle. TV is still mass. Views it as co-dependents, need to work together to do a collaborative campaign. Fox can provide multiple touchpoints. Publishers have to deliver the platform across the panels.

Dean: Online brings new transparency; marketing is supposed to be about the consumer, online supports this. the good brands will survive the transparency.

Mary: Agrees that we need many channels. Last year HP committed to double online spend year on year. They were at 10%, so far the trend is ontrack. There is definitely a metrics challenge with talking to traditional side and sees problems in trying to bring the two systems together (to make a common standard). Let them be content with their reach and freuqency if that’s what makes them happy. Would love to see traditional become more accountable. But online we say the key metric is engagement and we still can’t explain that in a satisfactory manner to traditional advertisers.

From here on in, there was little clarity between the differences between advertising on UGC sites such as MySpace and UGC as in content that supports (or not) the brand from entities other than paid agencies. Some times a question was answered from both perspectives. There was no pointing out the differences between the two approaches, both of which have advantages and disadvantages, which confused some people, if those sitting next to me were to go by.

Dean: Consumers are in control and that is good as consumers will make the decisions that are good for them and good for the brand.

A straw poll was conducted at this point and only one person admitted to being scared to death over the consumers being in control. I think more should be, it’s going to change a lot of people’s jobs.

John: UGC gives immediate feedback as to where users are connecting with positioning and proposition and allows you to examine the brand. It’s an immediate focus group.

Stacey: What are your top 3 concerns about UGC?

John: Cost! it delivers value (said half tongue in cheek). Trust. Security. Delivery.

Mary: Sees data that says that social networks (ie myspace) don;t trust content/products that advertise in the network environments, There are good examples, but product messages are not the answer; building microsites can take the user out of the network which is also not good. Worried about the learning cost of understanding UGC.

Dean: we have to be interesting. great messages. we have to break through with stuff people want to receive.

Next was an audience Q&A session – a lot of questions.

Q: How do you trust the UGC?

John: you can start by putting your toe in the water, [advertise] in safe places on the network, ie myspace homepage. Start to build up your credibility and trust. Some advertisers only want to be in protected areas. The risk takers are the automotives, fast foods, entertainment/studios.

Q: How far can you go with pulled content (ie can it be more edgier than traditional bought media)

Mary: a brand needs to create content that people want to pull. Create complete messages. As you get to the longtail how can you control? HP is slowly dipping toes in this area. Wants to be more associated with content that is sort of peer reviewed and is not prepared to go to the tail.

John: if innapproapriate content is placed around ads, they can (and have) pulled the ads. It puts pressure on media planners to be careful.

Dean: Kayak launched a TV campaign that was controversial, extended it online by creating an ad tool and asking users to create their own ads. they did moderate and remove things hateful, too sexual but it did go further than normally allowed (on network). It was seen as a way to extend the media buy.

Here, Mary may be doing a service to all us smaller bloggers out’s often about influence, not total reach and just ‘cos we’re out on the tail does not mean we are edgier. But I though only Dean answered the question about can you go more edgy online, or when consumers are choosing to create media or whn advertising next to uncensored stuff. I’ve seen the types of lines that can get cut from ads ‘cos the TV networks don’t like them and was shocked by some of the decisions, what was not allowed in. On line is slightly less restrained and you can stretch the brand, although you always have to remember that users can stretch it far further.

Q: is it really a paradign shift as marketing has always been about engagement and is it just an opportunity shift?

Mary: marketers have to think differently now across the channels.

Stacey: we have had a dialogue before but limited reach. Now we have a dialogue with a channel as consumers are a channel too. Consumers spread the word so this challenges how we engage.

John: it is having a huge impact on the ad infrastructure. The audience is fragmented, you have to customise more. You have to increase badnwidth to address this fragmentation.

Dean: it lets us do it faster, better, cheaper. Has unlocked a creative renaissance (all the tools). it is truly exciting.

Q: If Fox is selling the protected spaces, what % of reach is actually seeing this space?

John: the protected areas reference was about giving advertisers a safe space if they were uncomfirtable. many are moving into the unprotected areas. The home page gets about 15m uniques, about 200m impressions. This is about 25% of the user base.

Q: what happens when UGC heckles the brand?

Dean: that’s life! Not everyone likes the brand. we can’t get crazed about it.

Mary: It’s no longer the email that goes round the company, now everyone can see the problem. But if you are in the right the user community will stand up for you and defend you. If you are credible and stay true, the community will stand up.

Stacey: problems start with this when a brand ‘plays’ at this and does not really let up control.

Q: how much control is too much before you lose credibility?

Dean: You can’t take control and should not. things like Payperpost will backfire and cause problems.

Stacey: If you are just looking at spreading the brand then you are missing the boat. We should do more to learn about how users see the brand. We can’t just count eyeballs.

And there time was up. For me, this was a far better panel than the first one. Some realism that things have to change. But like the morning session, still a lot of confusion about what this means.

Oct 31

IAB – Fran Kelly keynote

Frank Kelly is the CEO of Arnold US and has written a book ‘The Breakaway Brand – How Great Brands Stand Out’. However, I found his talk about using interactive to help build brands extremely frustrating, with multiple asides and exclamation marks in my notes as he said something that I disagreed with or just left me baffled. (I’ll add those in to the notes as I go through). As the person next to me said, he was obviously selling his book but not necessarily giving any real insights into interactive usage. He’s CEO of an agency that has dome some great interactive work but he’s the CEO – I’m not sure that indepth understanding is within his remit. The first half of the talk was about branding in general before moving onto interactive. Again notes are taken as fast as i could, paraphrasing where necessary.
Building Breakaway Brands in an Interactive World

Companies aspire to get their brands to a great place and the book looks at 50 brands that great.

The web is the greatest development in marketing since TV; there’s unbelievable potential but lots of problems. You have to understand it but by focusing on many small details, on building a better heart monitor, we may end up blowing up the hospital.

To be a breakaway brand you have to be in a category of one, you have to be different. Interactive is a growing influence in building a brand. 15% of Arnold employees are digital specialists; for their biggest 20 clients these specialists sit in the service teams, not in a separate team.

You have to understand how the brand is different and then execute to drive the brand away from the competition. Interactive currrently has aound $16billion out of an industry of $300billion so there is a plenty of growth available.

The disaggregated model make sit harder to get a breakaway brand as all elements need to work together. You have to have a core idea against which all activity is executed. A good example would be Dove, Campaign for Real Beauty. The best campaigns often come from such simple insights.

Marketing has moved from building businesses to building brands and is now building communities. The two key elements in any campaign are TV and the web; you need to focus on how they work together, along with all the other channels. (The conference chair later made a comment about how three years ago they were doing sessions about convincing people that the web was an important component so was pleased that a CEO was now saying it was key)

We now move into the core of the talk, where Fran goes through 7 areas where he thinks the web really helps drive brands.

Building Commuity

Interactive is best for this. Three examples his agency has worked on – Royal Caribbean Cruises, Timberland and VW.

This section was the one that most annoyed me. There was no talk about how these sites build community; from the examples and from the text, it seemed to be that building community was equated with building a interactive site that engages people and gets them to spend time on the site. Not encouraging interaction and feedback amongst brand fans and back and forth with the brand which is where I’d put building community.

Driving Results

Examples – Google and Vonage. Both of these have used the web to successfully drive results and drive brands. Google is a $140billion idea and Vonage uses brilliant segmentation to drive targeted advertising.

Google is a web company and of course needs the web to drive the results. Google search was used as the key example that drives the results as opposed to the contextual ads which were the key to driving revenue. Again, the example driven did not illustrate the point enough for me.

Stretching Budgets
Example: Truth funding has reduced from $100m to $25m. !0 years ago 80% of their advertising was on TV, now it is only 20% and they are using the web to drive most of their message and stretch their budget. The site is continuosly changed and updated to keep it fresh

Here’s an example I agree with. The web is great for making more of your budget when it comes to engagement (if you are not necessarily after mass reach) And the site itself looks perfectly targeted, at ‘young, disaffected teeens’. As he says, the teens who are likely to be affected by the ‘talk to your children/talk to your parents’ message are unlikely to actually be the ones the need the message!

Respecting the Channel

examples – two commercials that were used on online programming. You cannot just repurpose the TV ads for this, both the ads were specially created and were effective.

Although this is not a reason why the web is good (which most of the rest are) it is a reason why you need to think differently and cannot just use it as an extension of TV or print but have to think holistically about the whole campaign and how all the parts fit together

Building Loyalty

Examples: and Tracking has shown that people can spend 10-45 mins on thetruth.

Is he measuring engagement and interest or loyalty. The first is about how long someone may stay on your site exploring it; the second is about return rates (for a website at least)? the principle is sound, the explanation is poor.

Brand Modernisation

Example talbots. A classic clothes brand (catalog) that has used the web to improve sales. the web is its fastest growing and most profitable of its biusiness. the web shopper has higher purchase and lower return rates than the catologue shoppers.

He gives a good example of a retailer that has used the web effectively to maintain and grow sales in a world that no longer relies on printed media for its at home purchases. But does this modernise the brand. Does beng on the web mean that a brand is hip and with it? No, it does not, it’s reality of marketing today that you often need to be on the web but being on the web is not a short cut to modernisation.

Disintegration vs Integration

The great brands see all the channels pulled together, it’s part of the whole campaign not treated as something different.

Again agree. But can also see the place where the web is great to try out the outer reaches of the brand message.

And that was the end of the speach. Writing it up I’m still frustrated and annoyed. Kelly is a successful speaker about building brands and building great brands. The book itself is supposed to be good. But he hit all the wrong buttons with me, not really explaingin his points.

One more to go ‘taking control of UGC’. Happily, the panel were more realistic than the title.

Oct 30

7 days in a Nissan Sentra

Nissan have been runing some interesting commercials this week, to promote the new (I assume it is new) Nissan Sentra. Marc Horowitz has blogged his story – it was last week – and explains the rules.

  1. I must live 7 straight days out of my Sentra. I am free to come and go from the Sentra as I please.
  2. I must not return to my apartment at any point during the 7 days.
  3. I must assume my normal day-to-day responsibilities including work and all scheduled client meetings.
  4. I must personally prepare at least 4 meals within the immediate vicinity of my Sentra.
  5. I must go on at least one date. Hopefully more.
  6. I must not let anyone else drive my car for the 7 days.
  7. I must sleep in a different location each night. Once the location is chosen I must not move from it.
  8. I must not set foot outside of my car for any reason from 12am to 5am.
  9. I must host at least 2 social functions in my Sentra. One must be on or after Day 6.
  10. I must maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene.

The last one is curious, as he only thought he needed three pairs of underwear for the week!  Maybe this is why Nissan put a disclaimer on the link to the blog about not necessarily agreeing within everything said 😉
The car industry was mentioned today as one of the areas that is embracing integrated marketing and this is a good example.  I’m not sure where else this is – definitely online ads, not seen it elsewhere, but I like it.

Dec 20

Viral Ads – VW lead the way

Bore Me are listing the top 10 viral downloads for the year, for both commercial ads and for more fun videos. Interestingly Volkswagon top both the polls. In the ads section, their Singin’ in the Rain mashup ad came out on top. The marketeers would be pleased with that result, but rather less pleased that in the general downloads the spoof VW ad about suicide bombers being contained by VW’s strength came out on top.