The Year of Foursquare

27 Jan

Is 2011 the year of geo-location app devices? Well we know that as mobile technology literally takes over our lives we become more and more keen on using applications that move at the same speed that we do- and that’s exactly what Foursquare does it follows you and lets you share with everyone where exactly you are and what you are doing. I am not particularly thrilled with the idea of letting everyone know what I am up to but I cannot ignore that this is one if not the most interesting opportunities for marketing and advertising. The possibilities are endless for market researchers and for business to take advantage of this consumer self-tracking. Above is the infographic the company released representing its impressive growth in 2010 – which leads me to believe we are now in the year of Foursquare… start checking in!

As you can see there is no country in the world that hasn’t checked in! I am not sure if this is something frightening or impressive. Nevertheless North Korea checked in last.

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What if the US Federal Government had an Ad Campaign?

27 Jan

I came across this brilliant article on Harper’s magazine titled “A Super Bowl for Uncle Sam” — a forum of four Madison Av. creative directors (Grey Group, Saatchi and Saatchi, Wieden+Kennedy and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) brainstorming hypothetical advertising campaigns for the U.S. federal government to run during the Super Bowl. It is no secret to us Canadians that our neighbors down south don’t like their federal government. Ever since the late 1960’s popularity began to fall in what now has become a national feeling of discontent- no matter who is running the gorvernment, it is described as “constipated,” “obese,” “crappy” “bureaucracy” run by a “bunch of yahoos,” or by a “bunch of [profanity deleted].” .

In any business, when consumers opinion has taken a negative turn, it’s time to reinvent the brand and launch a new marketing campaign — why not do the same for the government? After a debate, the ad men come to the conclusion that it’s the federal brand, not the product, that Americans hate. No one really dislikes the post office employee that brings the mail everyday or NASA’s astronauts; what people hate is the federal brand. The immediate association is one of bureaucracy, crazy spending, poor decisions and unethical behavior. How can marketers change that opinion? The article goes through all the possible directions this ad could take — either cynical, informative or plain emotional.

Can advertisement change the product not just the image- can it influence a change within an organization as big as the US government? Well there is that old adage that the fastest way to kill a bad product is with good advertisement.

I will let you make the judgment on what campaign works the best reminding Americans that although the government has a lot of problems the U.S. is not such a bad place to live. (Unfortunately you are going to have to go see the ads in the nearest magazine stand- below is the pic of Goodby and Silverstein’s, which has this accompanying website).

Coca-Cola’s 5 by 20

19 Jan

This might not be breaking news, however had to share it with all of you. Coca-Cola’s 5 by 20 Initiative is in my opinion one of the most brilliant ways for a company like Coca-Cola to work on their public image and actually make a long lasting positive impact. Usually when we think of Coke, nothing but calories, rotting teeth, diabetes, child obesity and sugar comes to mind. However at a plenary session on empowering women at the Clinton Global Initiative, Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Company, made a promise in the name of the conglomerate to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs throughout Coca-Cola’s global business system by 2020.

How are they going to do this? The initiative is based on the company’s Micro Distribution Centers (MDCs) in Africa. MDCs are an independent network of entrepreneurs who distribute Coca-Cola’s beverage products to shops and restaurants, often by bicycle, pushcart and in the better cases small trucks. Women play a part in the MCD sometimes as partners to their husbands and in some cases as the main entrepreneurs. Coca-Cola provides training, support and resources for these businesswomen to confidently and successfully run their business. This partnership benefits their families, their communities and of course Coca-Cola.

The success of this initiative not only will provide Coca-Cola with a better distribution network in the participating communities but will also create guaranteed brand loyalty and product placement opportunities (in the cars, bicycles, pushcarts, retailers etc.) Most importantly Coca-Cola will be associated with the well being of the communities in which women are becoming strong, prosperous while creating more jobs and financial stability. What a change from the rotting teeth association!

Here is the website with the video which was presented through TED Talks division for women. The video portrays the whole idea of 5 by 20 through the lives of 3 women who are excelling as MDCs.

The Pink Pony Case Study and John St.

19 Jan

As a marketing post-grad student eager to get out in the world and start working at an innovative agency or company I cannot tell you how excited I was to learn about John St. This Toronto based agency is exactly what I have been day dreaming about while in class. John St. is the type of place where creativity is their main weapon- by excelling and relying on it to deliver well manicured marketing strategies and shape brands into unignorable signifiers.

Their business goal is clear and simple not a convoluted mess of self-centered ideals, they measure their success with that of their clients. With less than 10 years in the industry and with clients as big as AstraZeneca, The Bay and Holiday Inn in their portfolio, one can say they are reaching their goals and going an extra mile.

A showcase of their creative ability is the video they put together to portray their services in a brilliant manner. The Pink Pony Case Study displays all the elements of a successful marketing campaign, by exemplifying this in a human and accessible manner they not only demonstrate their abilities but introduce the viewer to the type of experience that their services provide.

Please enjoy the video here

Advertising Week

18 Jan

It starts next week and I am very excited with all the exciting events that are taking place! Unfortunately I am in class or working for most of them ( so mad I am missing Agency Wars II). I am at least going to go to one of the Speaker Series Event: Five for Five. In which five of MDC Partners Top Thought Leaders discuss the latest, greatest, game changing thing they are working on now and how they will affect the industry.

This is a great opportunity for your professionals in the industry as well as newbies like me to get their foot, learn something from these pros and perhaps make some valuable connections.

The events are taking place in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax and Edmonton. Here in Toronto they start in exactly a week- so log on to http://www.advertisingweek.ca/ and check out ( and sign up) the events that fit your schedule.

Hope to see some of you there with your business cards ready!

The race for marketshare in the Smartphone world

16 Jan

The race of the smartphones

Seeing that mobile technology is the rising trend in marketing, let’s take a look into what smartphones are leading the race for marketshare.

Wikibrands

16 Jan

As individuals have become more literate with social networking sites and more engaged with the Internet, they have displayed a desire to be creative partners rather than simply passive receivers of content. It seems almost natural for organizations, products, and services to take advantage of this enthusiasm for participation. Tapping into this sphere of customer collaboration and social networking is at the core of WikiBrands, the how-to guide to increasing value using the interactive world.

Wikibrands is the brainchild of Sean Moffitt and Mike Dover, who coincidentally met each other through LinkedIn, the professionally orientated networking site. Both authors had years of experience in the client side and later ran consulting agencies focused on social media marketing. The partnership proved a catalyst to deciphering the new wave of media marketing now gaining leverage. “Wikibranding” is branding in which the consumer participates, via websites and web-based tools. Is increasing the awareness of the image and brand of a business, organization, idea etc through social networks and consumer created sites. The days of agency marketing, where the costumer was targeted and fed the ideal dosage of information, are fading into the past; the reality nowadays is more interactive, personal and “wiki” (meaning fast).

There are seemingly obvious reasons that a company would employ Wikibranding. It is cheaper and sometimes free; it is easily measurable, as opposed to larger-scale ad campaigns that are often not; and it is engaging and a hot trend. In financial terms it makes sense, since the monetary investment is very low compared to the high level of awareness it creates. However, Mr. Moffitt and Mr. Dover surveyed a large sample of the companies that are making the most out of this platform and discovered they were doing so no just for the simple reasons stated above but also a series of very tangible motives.

Rated number one was the consumer’s desire for authenticity and transparency. How would a person know if Wholefoods really has the best products, as they claim, if the only source of this information is the company itself? The Internet savvy consumer would rather read the praises or discontentment of fellow shoppers through their tweets.  This apparently authentic, consumer-driven publicity (even if directed by the brand) engages the consumer and at the same time creates more brand awareness than a more traditional advertising campaign would (TV commercial and print).

The second reason identified by the industry study is simple one: the enormous role that social networks – Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Youtube and others – now play in people’s personal and professional lives. Personally, I feel my Blackberry is an extension of myself – not only is it my main tool to communicate with family and friends, it also allows me to check the most recent news via Twitter and posting my own views, to keep updated with events and friends in Facebook, and to maintain my professional life on Linkedin.

This is closely related to the third reason for the rise of Wikibranding, which is the increasing role of wireless technology. Approximately 4.3 billion people worldwide own cell phones, and a sizeable percentage of those have smart phones. This is a clear indicator of the increasing role of mobile technology. With the advent of apps, phones are real gateways for social networking and marketing. With every tool for sharing information at our fingertips, and with the increasingly fast movement of trends, it makes sense to market ideas and products through this fast and easily accessible medium in real time, rather than through older, less flexible media. The decline of radio, television and print marketing is directly related to the rise of social media marketing.

Last but not least, Wikibranding allows for media fragmentation, formerly a practice only employed by direct marketers. Online resources make it simple and cost effective to target an audience and deliver a specific message. Virtual communities, where people share interests and ideas, thrive within social networks, and within them a market can be target easily and at very little cost. Data can be gathered from websites such as Facebook or Linkedin in which personal information is stored, making it easy for marketers to determine the type of consumer a person is. As well, there are websites such as Amazon in which the costumer chooses to write reviews and based on his or her purchase is qualified in a given market.

Wikibranding not only can be used to create awareness but also to shape, in an interactive manner, the image of the company. When someone blogs or tweets about Canadian Tire sponsoring an event for children with disabilities, the company is being viewed in an honest and transparent way as a charitable organization. This image appreciation costs the company no money and will boost their image in society.

Although it seems as if there is no thinkable rationale to be opposed to Wikibranding Mr. Moffitt and Mr. Dover explained the concerns that some businesses have. These tend to be more conservative and anxious about placing their image and reputation in the hands of the public. The lack of technical skills, combined with an unfamiliarity of social networking sites, makes it a scary environment to dip into. Many companies think that Wikibranding is a trend and below their product and services. For example, a medical device company might think their image does not belong in the customer-participative sphere. Others company might be concerned with negative commentaries circulating the Internet, or viral videos mocking their efforts of following the trend.

Although there are authentic concerns that could cause some businesses to hesitate before tapping into Wikibranding, the positive outcomes and the value added to business surpasses the potential dangers. Perhaps it will be replace by a more innovative tool in the near future. But for now, companies should take advantage of the myriad resources available to them and of the desire of people all over the world to participate as an active part in the market. WikiBrands is an excellent book to guide the modern marketer and companies and organizations eager to open the door to the vast opportunities of customer participation, social influence and collaboration.