1000 Heads

Helping brands’ stories travel further and faster
  • Mail
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • foursquare
  • linkedIn
  • instagram

Archive for the ‘Our thoughts’ Category

Point of view: 3D printing. Blood vessels, organs, food… What next?

Friday, July 25th, 2014

3D printing. A concept that only a few decades ago would have seemed ludicrous, is now set to revolutionise the way we live today.

Eco-friendly, a cure for cancer and a functioning 3D-printed kidney. The rise of 3D printing has been heralded as the “Second Industrial Revolution” , and it has the potential to impact our lives in a similar way

3D ‘Bio’-Printing

“Imagine being able to walk into a hospital and have a full organ printed – or bio-printed, as we call it – with all the cells, proteins and blood vessels in the right place, simply by pushing the ‘print’ button on your computer screen?” envisages Dr. Luiz Bertassoni of the University of Sydney. Forward-thinking doctors want to be able to print tissue to make organs cheaply, and anticipate that in 10 years’ time every lab and hospital will have a 3-D printing machine that is able to print living cells.

3D printing even has the scope to revolutionize the way we treat cancer. Tumours can now be ‘printed’ for the purpose of testing developing drugs quickly and more accurately. A living tumour can be printed at an extraordinarily high resolution, in a multitude of different and specific shapes and sizes. Each tumour is different, so there’s even the possibility that the technology will be able to simulate individual patients’ cancers in the lab – to see which drugs work most effectively to combat it.

3D Printing and Sustainability

3D printing is being lauded as a ‘greener’ option to traditional manufacturing processes. The problem with traditional manufacturing is in the costs of transportation from A to B to C and often D. Creating not one, but multiple routes of carbon emission, not to mention excess packaging.  With 3D printing, a design team come up with an object and then store the design in an online repository. Clients then peruse designs online before loading their favourite to an in-home or local 3D printer to be reproduced and used; therefore removing the individual legs of shipping as well as the dilemma of excess packaging.

A distant version perhaps; in a world where all homes are kitted out with a 3D printer, akin to the two dimensional printer these days – but nonetheless, this could be an environmental game changer.

3D Printing and Brands

3D Printing is already starting to speed up small businesses. Science and life-enhancing capabilities aside, it is proving an effective tool for brands to tap into. However with the ‘democratization’ of 3D printing, as it has been termed, will brands lose their power and lure as more people are able to manufacture products independently?

The cleverest brands are embracing 3D printing; and harnessing the opportunity. They are riding the wave of the revolution and inviting collaboration with the individual. 3D printing provides a unique opportunity to strengthen the link between consumer and brand through the creation of one-of-a-kind products.

This mode of thought is exactly what Adobe tapped into with their #CreativityForAll campaign hatched by 1000heads. We were briefed to raise awareness of Adobe’s new 3D printing capabilities. The solution: we invited a selection of 2 and 3D artists to reimagine the traditional Easter egg.  In turn, we 3D printed their visions in magnificent coloured sandstone. Read more here.

Other brands operating creatively are Dewar’s who gathered a swarm of 80,000 honey bees to “3B print” a bottle of whisky. A transparent whisky bottle was created housing a swarm of bees for a period of 6 weeks. From this, an inside out beehive was gloriously constructed. The experiment was broadcast “Live from the Hive” to Dewar’s Facebook page. Despite not being a clean-cut example of 3D printing, it clearly demonstrates its powerful influence and the creative possibilities 3D printing invites.

To promote CocaCola’s mini-size bottles in Israel, the brand created an app which allowed consumers to create virtual replicas of themselves to feed, drink and take care of, a la Tamigotchi (remember?). The reward to those that looked after “themselves” successfully was an invitation to Coke’s headquarters in Israel where “mini me” figurines were 3D printed. Successfully tapping into Coke’s overarching marketing strategy about the formulation of personal relationships with its customers.

The possibilities with 3D printing in the future may well extend beyond our wildest dreams . Already we are dealing with Bio-Printing, dreams of 3D printed airliner wings and plastic skulls (yes, really). Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired, once said that 3D printing “will be bigger than the web.” A bold statement indeed, but judging by the levels of ingenuity, it could well be the case.

Photograph by makerbot on Flickr

Point of view: Going back 50 years to face the future

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Each year the social media industry asks itself a new set of questions. In 2009 we wondered if it was a fad. In 2010 we debated what we should say. In 2013 we stood for all things ‘real time’.

This year we’re finally taking steps to talk about actual, proven business value.

Platforms like Instagram have been cautious about introducing advertising. Others like Pinterest have been more aggressive. Just last week, both Facebook and Twitter took a step further: they want to make buying things on their platforms easier by introducing direct response solutions (Twitter already had Lead Generation Cards for example). All of which takes me fifty years back in advertising history…

When David Ogilvy was 25, he discovered what would become his “first love and secret weapon”: direct mail. It was his introduction to the power of measurable results, instead of general platitudes and opinion. With direct mail, you either got a result, or you didn’t. You either sold something, or you didn’t. Simple.

As an industry, we tend to avoid talking about selling. We like to talk about conversations and ‘engagement’, an altogether more human kind of communication. We don’t like the nagging salesman, the cold call, the hard sell.

To think we are either cold-blooded salesmen or daydreaming enthusiasts prevents us doing our best work. We love to think we’re either one or the other, but in fact we must be both.

The backbone of our industry has always been probability. The right research, strategy, idea and measurement are essential not because they make failing impossible, but because they make success a bit more likely. Now that it’s becoming easier to define success, we’re getting closer to what Ogilvy stood for with direct advertising: you either get those results, or you don’t.

Social media has always allowed us to track the metrics – number of fans, total reach, conversations, referral traffic – but it’s not as easy to tie that to actual value. If people tweet more, do they care more? Do they buy more? Metrics are a means to an end, but in the end it’s the business value that counts.

It’s good to see social platforms mature to the level in which they give us more tools to better make that connection between what happens on social media and how that reflects in business performance. Tracking direct response is not the only way to do that, but it’s a good start.

We’ll not always be able to connect the dots, because the research around brand building is clear: these things take time and are not always logical. In a way, we’re going back fifty years to Ogilvy’s philosophy around direct advertising and we have more tools than ever to tie the metrics to actual business value.

Photograph courtesy of Michael Coghlan on Flickr.

Point of view: The inescapable rise of Emoji

Friday, July 11th, 2014

As our self-appointed in-house Emoji expert I am unashamedly passionate about the sunny yellow characters used to inject personality into messages nationwide. Born in Japan, the characters have been incorporated into Unicode (the computer industry standard for encoding and displaying most of the world’s writing systems) and captured the hearts and minds of the masses at an unprecedented rate.

Emoji is the sticker album we had as youngsters, digitalised. Last week saw the launch of Emojli, the niche “Emoji-only” social platform and over 17,000 people have already flocked to the site to secure their username (in Emoji, of course).

Granted, Emoji has its sceptics – ‘informal’, ‘unnecessary’, ‘distracting’ are a handful of the labels thrown their way – but millions of people disagree. The use of Emoji in social media has given rise to a new method of storytelling; these visual tokens add emotional nuance or strengthen a point. Research has revealed that our brains have adapted to read emoticons in the same way that we read human faces, and studies report that those who use positive emoticons tend to be the most influential people on Twitter.

So, how can a brand harness the power and influence of Emoji? To be more approachable, humane; to be better understood?

Brand collaborations with Emoji are manifesting in a number of ways.

Animal charity PETA has used Emoji in a first-of-its-kind cross channel mobile campaign entitled ‘Cruelty beyond words.’ Tapping into Emoji as a universal “language” for the under-30s, PETA used the characters to create a short clip and conjure graphic animal cruelty scenes in imagery spread across social media. Add a clear anti-slacktivism call to action at the end, encouraging supporters to text the heart Emoji or keyword HEART to support the cause and you have a campaign that is easy, timely and effective.

Brand Emoji has morphed a collection of well-loved brand logos from Coca Cola to Chanel into Emoji form: a concept that makes cold or corporate imagery instantly shareable and could be exploited much more vigorously by brands.

Renowned early adopters Oreo targeted mainland China, with their Oreo Bonding Emoji Campaign. Through research, Oreo found that Chinese families were becoming increasingly divided and Emoji was perceived as the best tool with which to unite the broken nation (yes, really). Family photos could be pasted into interactive Emoji frames and shared through China’s biggest mobile, social platform, WeChat. The figures speak for themselves – 99 million Emojis were generated over 11 weeks and 10 million shared with family and friends.

We’ve also been helping Skype use their famous emoticon library in new ways – letting the Emojis loose from the Skype app to help build brand love and create conversations. Using emoticons to tell simple visual stories in the newsfeed has generated some of the highest engagement rates for Skype across Twitter and Facebook.

We’ve also taken emoticons offline. As part of their presence at the Spirit Awards, we hired an artist to create on-the-spot emoticons of the stars live from the red carpet.

Attendees could even order a special emoticon latte.

For Skype’s recent Easter promotion, we hid hand-crafted “eggmoticons” in Skype’s cover photos for fans to collect. Users then had to find the hidden emoticons, sign into Skype and IM them to a “Skype Easter Basket” ID.

The humble emoticon has also underpinned Skype’s recent movie sponsorship deals. As part of its partnership with Marvel around the latest Captain America movie, Skype dropped limited edition emoticons into the latest version of Skype for film buffs.

What next?

Apparently, 250 new Emojis will be coming to our keyboards this month – everything from a levitating suited man to a chipmunk. And Emoji could be set to become legitimate search criteria. Yelp now allows users to search venues through Emoji whether they’re on the lookout for a coffee, haircut or a slice of pizza. With most of Yelp’s audiences are accessing the site through mobile, it’s an ingenious time-saving device. Google, Bing and co. may not be far behind..

Twitter has already seen #emojiethnicityupdate trending, backed by the likes of Miley Cyrus in an effort to get more Emojis of ‘colour’ to our keyboard in the current absence of ethnic diversity. InstaEmoji is an app that allows you to plant Emojis onto camera roll photos to Tweet/Instagram as you like.

In short, Emoji may be cartoonish, but brands would be well advised to take them seriously. There’s real power in those smiles.

Point of view: Game of Thrones, great storytelling and social layering

Friday, July 4th, 2014

At 1000heads we look at social media as one part of a wider ecosystem that permeates our clients’ work as much as it does their audiences’ lives. Social as a layer for brand activity, instead of a communications silo.

We’re also incredibly geeky when it comes to Game Of Thrones. The series, the books… but also Game Of Thrones the social brand.

When it comes to social media, how does the story around the show add value to the story within the show? In other words, do they use social media as a layer integrated into the whole world of the production – or as a campaign silo?

What others say of us is often more powerful that what we say of ourselves, so let’s start with what people said about the last series of Game Of Thrones.

Every week a new episode aired, #GameOfThrones trended on Twitter. Lots of videos went viral around the show, including this one that showcases the actors in the days before Westeros. The volume of conversation is staggering – take a look at the /r/gameofthrones sub-reddit.

On top of that, season 4’s finale turned Game Of Thrones into the most pirated show in history, according to Forbes. Legal issues aside, this is huge news when it comes to measuring its popularity.

Now, all this conversation comes from somewhere. It would be hard to deny the high production values behind the show, and the existing groundswell of George RR Martin fans. But the communications team behind Game Of Thrones have done a great deal to capitalise on these advantages, with both top-level initiatives and detail-focused human moments.

Top level initiatives are what typically get the show featured in news outlets. They have included so far, but not exclusively, letting people bring down King Joffrey with the power of the internet, and having Lena Headey talk “Game Of Thrones style” with king-of-all-things-internet Jimmy Kimmel.

But it is the human moments that give those big news campaigns soul. Paul Adams, now VP of Product at Intercom, once said that the future of advertising would reside in “many lightweight interactions over time”. How does Game Of Thrones create them? Using the people that most publicly bring to life some of its top moments: the actors (warning, spoilers ahead!)

Arguably one of the most memorable moments this season was the fight between Oberyn Martell and Gregor Clegane, which culminates with Martell having his head smashed in by Clegane’s bare hands. I found it one of the most brutal moments of television I have seen, and I was not alone.

But something interesting happened in the meantime. Pedro Pascal, who plays Martell, posted this on Instagram. So did Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, literally one of the strongest men in the world, who plays Clegane. In essence, after the climactic scene, the conversation didn’t stop – it grew, albeit with a change of tone: calm down everyone, they’re still friends!

They’re not the only ones to contribute to a layer of conversation that surfs on the series’ shocking twists. Lena Headey posted this around the same time the episode aired out! Spoilers much? And how about this, pointing out to the season finale or maybe what happens next?

Bold, perhaps. But human? Most definitely. The actors not only provide shock and delight by watching the show alongside their fans – they also provide relief and to some extent a deeper level of relationship with the audience by keeping the story going outside of the screened episodes.

What does this tell us about how to become a super-social brand?

First of all, it shows social media works best if you involve as many people as you can within the organisation, regardless if it’s a corporation or television cast. Stories are told around a brand in a controlled manner, but unexpected, human moments are also allowed to spill out. Social acts as a backbone for daily communications, instead of an afterthought.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s a great example of how you can extend a narrative around a certain story, mixing fiction and reality, and heightening its inherent creative flavour and atmosphere. Ultimately, this is another example of how providing sneak peeks into your brand backstage keeps feeding fans what they really want: more things to talk about with other like-minded people.

If that isn’t the definition of something social, I don’t know what is.


This article originally appeared on 12ahead

Point of view: What makes a good social strategy?

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

What does a good social strategy look like?

As one of the judges of the Warc Prize for Social Strategy, which has just named AMV BBDO’s ‘Doritos Mariachi‘ Facebook campaign ‘the world’s best social strategy’, you’d think I might have my answer down pat. But after four months spent arguing the merits, or otherwise, of 40-odd case studies with a brilliant global group of strategists, planners, researchers, analysts and creatives, I have never been more aware of how subjective success can be in the social marketing world.

Wary of my own prejudices, I employed the process to articulate the criteria I use to define social success. It turns out I have four.

1. Does this strategy use social channels in a uniquely appropriate and/or innovative way?

2. Does it spring from an idea that is inherently conversational?

3. Does it generate enough emotional advocacy to achieve behaviour change?

4. And is it the product of a company that ‘is’ social, rather than one that ‘does’ social to try to win awards?

Let’s examine the first. I have to admit that, when one entrant explained that they ‘started a relationship with bloggers’, I scribbled a weary ‘woohoo’ over the submission form. Putting slick images up on Facebook or sending freebies to semi-celeb bloggers seemed fresh in 2008. They can still form useful components of a wider strategy, but they’re mostly tired old tactics from print or PR squashed to fit a new space.

How about harnessing geolocation, augmented reality, wearable tech? How about looking beyond Facebook or Twitter to engage with exciting emerging communities on Findery, FightMe or VSCO?

Saatchi & Saatchi’s ASB ‘Like Loan‘ campaign, which won a Gold Award in the Warc Prize, used the power of group-buying to create the world’s first home loan rate powered by likes. It’s a great example of a brand using a uniquely social technology to game-change a risk-averse industry. Making an expensive video and slapping it on YouTube – a common tactic for weaker entries – is not.

And what about the small matter of an inherently social idea? What we’re looking for here is a concept that makes people talk, a spark that builds relationships, a story that inspires others to tell their own.

A strong example of this is the Silver Award-winning ‘Animal Strike‘ campaign by DDB Group New Zealand for Paw Justice, which gave animal lovers a series of tools to help their pets ‘strike’ on the internet in protest against new chemical testing laws. The ‘black paw’ symbol, whether plastered over a deactivated YouTube video or printed onto signs outside empty zoo enclosures provided a bold, simple message that people could customise to disrupt their own networks and convey their own sentiments.

The opposite of this is a brand pumping out a smorgasbord of content – Facebook posts, Twitter Q&As, blogger outreach, hashtags – at great volume but without a single coherent, emotional centre that will turn a marketing drive into a movement that others want to own and share.

Thirdly, behaviour change. It’s no coincidence that the Doritos case study scooped both the Grand Prix and the Special Award for Analytics. With its mix of metrics encompassing reach, engagement, sentiment, intent to purchase, shift in demographics of Facebook followers and, yes, sales figures, it was a refreshingly sophisticated definition of social value in an industry that remains over-reliant on views, follows and likes.

The fact is, if you want massive exposure, you might as well just pay for a Facebook ad or put up a billboard. The superpower of social media is not exposure: it’s influence. Did your audience do anything more taxing than clicking on a button or typing a smiley face? Did they create their own content and translate the spirit of your campaign into their own lives and words? Tracking emotional impact and consumer action is an essential indicator of social success.

Finally, a great campaign should be just one manifestation of a brand’s commitment to a lifelong relationship with its consumers (not to mention partners, stakeholders and staff). Running shoe brand Mizuno deservedly won Warc’s Special Award for Social Business with its Mezamashii Run Project, in which it collaborated with runners to rigorously test its product. The approach stemmed from a deep respect for existing online running communities and involved the company being publicly honest about its challenges and mistakes, resulting in an ongoing conversation between equals rather than a short-lived marketing stunt.

That’s my take. You probably have four – or 40 – more. Tell me why they’re better with a tweet to @mollyflatt.


This article originally appeared in Admap.

Handwriting, your mum, technology… it’s all connected!

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Facebook might have been down yesterday, but do you know what’s up? Our second 1000views Blog Digest, on a nifty SlideShare deck for your visual delight!

This month, we go from handwriting to technology and even mention your mum (it’s not like that)… and how it’s all connected with the work we love to do! Plus, some insights from our team to get your brain juices going as well.

Check the freshly baked deck below, and make sure to reach out to @1000heads, @Sam_Oscar_March, @FrankG and @aogw to share your thoughts as well.


Point of view: People-first technology

Friday, June 13th, 2014

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod to Apple employees in 2001, rather than attempting to describe the benefits of the industry-defining product through its technology, he used five words to define it:

1000 songs in your pocket. 

How beautifully simple.

Aside from the neat articulation that would subsequently be used as a way to explain the product to consumers, what struck a chord with me was the way in which Jobs (and of course, Apple) recognised that technology is very much the means rather than the end when it comes to creating tech.

No doubt there are numerous examples of campaigns, websites, services and even TV shows that either use technology as it should be used – as an enabler or enhancer of experiences – or simply get in wrong by starting with technology and end up in no-man’s-land. Here are just a few.

A growing need to reconnect with the real world: Notonappstore

This project, started by three advertising students turns tech on its head, using it to communicate a powerful message that reminds us (and especially our kids) to look up from our screens once in a while and get out into the world.

Built around the insight that the best things in our lives don’t necessarily revolve around our smartphones and tablets, the campaign encourages consumers to purchase a $1 sticker which they can attach as a real-life label to the things they love. By taking a photo, and tagging it with #notontheappstore, it’s then featured on the site.

The success of the project lies in its provocative nature – using technology itself to challenge our relationship with it and helping remind us that we’re more than the sum of the gadgets we have in our hands.

Using tech to disconnect: Anti-Social

Anti-Social is a piece of software that uses technology to enable people to block their own access to social media sites (among others). The vast amounts of conversation and praise the campaign has generated both on and offline is testament to the fact that the service has addressed a very real and relatable consumer need – the need to find more time and focus.

With so much pressure from our social networks to be constantly plugged in for fear of missing out, the trend of a growing need for time out, smaller networks and privacy is inevitable.

Technology used as the basis for useful advertising: UTEC water billboard

This beautifully simple advertising campaign uses technology to deliver an ingenious solution to a basic consumer need – access to clean drinking water. The inspiring activity to promote the University of Engineering and Technology in Peru, literally pulls drinking water out of thin air and delivers it to the local community.

It’s an amazing example of insightful creative working seamlessly with the most innovative technology to create a surprising and meaningful campaign. It not only delivered genuine impact but addressed the core campaign objective – to show people that it’s possible to solve problems with engineering.

Technology enabling stories: Lumia Stories 

To celebrate the launch of Microsoft Mobile’s phablet, the Lumia 1520, we devised the Lumia Stories campaign. Smartphones have become an extension of ourselves, going everywhere with us and helping us to share what we experience with the rest of the world. This campaign however, doesn’t focus on the product, it talks about those people that use it; one hundred people from the age of 1 – 100 to be precise.

Through a series of videos where 100 people aged 1-100 were recruited to tell their stories, Lumia Stories examines how technology can help unlock powerful personal narratives, enabling people to relive their stories and precious moments.

Tech for the sake of tech: #susanalbumparty

This is a brilliant example of jumping on a social media/technological bandwagon without considering the consequences. Who could forget the infamous #susanalbumparty where technology inadvertently enabled one of the most famous Twitter PR disasters in recent memory to play out on a global stage?

The ill-conceived campaign hashtag quickly overtook the event and campaign itself to become the story, putting technology in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, and by the time the hashtag was updated to #susanboylesalbumparty the intended message had been well and truly lost.

And finally…

Selfie, the TV show. No pithy title needed…

Selfie – the planned ABC show due to air in the USA. Already infamous, the show uses technology and social media as its subject.

What’s clear from all these examples is that when technology is used successfully, either in a campaign or as part of a product or service, a real consumer need is addressed. Ultimately, it works when you put human beings first.


This article originally appeared on 12ahead.com

Point of view: Why marketing to mothers has to grow up

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Let’s get this straight once and for all (and I can’t believe I have to say this): mothers do not fit one mould.

They are as diverse in their lifestyle choices, their family structures and their interests as women who choose not to have kids (and men, for that matter). As Rachel Pashley, author of Female Tribes, points out, a ‘one mother fits all’ image is no longer applicable – and can be positively offensive – in our emerging female powered society.

However, take a glance at most of the advertising and marketing (both traditional and social) targeted to mothers and it looks as if we’ve jumped back a good few decades.

Last week I attended an APG Noisey Thinking talk which asked: ‘Why are women alienated from advertising?’ and the topic of mothers was particularly controversial.

At the event, Richard Huntingdon of Saatchi & Saatchi broke down 5 myths of motherhood that much advertising is guilty of helping perpetuate. You can find the full explanation here, but in their essence, they are:

1. Motherhood defines a person.
2. Mothers are desperately seeking perfection.
3. Mothers are prudes.
4. Motherhood = drudgery.
5. All fathers are useless.

It is utterly bizarre that this attitude towards mothers persists in advertising. Worse still, it is completely ineffectual with a mere 19% of mothers believing there are any examples of ‘mums’ they recognise in the ads they see.

For example, check out Asda’s ‘Behind every great Christmas, there’s mum’ ad from 2012. A litany of patronising clichés.

Or moving into social marketing, we’re still seeing persistent stereotypes circulating in campaigns that purport to break the status quo. The now famous ‘Thank You Mum’ campaign from P&G around the 2012 London Olympics did have strong, powerful women at its focus. However, we still saw the same tired images of mothers in the kitchen, women doing the cleaning and general chores, all of which are supposed to have been the key factors in delivering the female athletes’ eventual successes.

Alongside the traditional advertising material, there was a Twitter campaign with the tag #ThankYouMum and an account seemingly specifically dedicated to the women’s place in the home. The problem isn’t just that this is offensive – it’s ineffectual, with the majority of the assets completely missing the target audience and receiving no shares or engagement. Mothers are clearly trying to tell us something… could it be that they are not the sum total of their chores, children or looks?

So who is doing it right?

Ignoring the fact that brands rapping is always embarrassing, this Fiat video reflects a brand that has listened to what mothers are saying, rather than making assumptions. As, Robert Lombardi, marketing manager at Fiat, says “The video resonated with mums not only in the UK but across the world. Unlike most ads, the film is a no-holds-barred portrayal of the challenges women face as they grapple with their new role as a mother. It is an edgy and humorous interpretation of everyday family life.”

Over in social, we helped Vosene target mothers with young children not by patronising them, but instead by providing a useful tool to help them connect with and inform each other. The interactive ‘Nitwatch’ tracked conversation about head lice across the country, visualising it on a map. The tone was light-hearted, reflecting the daily real-life challenges of motherhood in a spirit of solidarity.

In short, we need to be careful of how we talk to the 18 million mothers  in the UK. They are not one homogenous group with equal desires and ambitions; they are as diverse as the 27 million car owners in the UK. Writing ‘car owner’ on your creative brief would not be acceptable, so there is no excuse for ‘mother’ being used in the same way.

Advertising, marketing and social innovation have a responsibility to disrupt this tired narrative. Before we market to mums, we should talk to them. I bet they have a lot of interesting things to say… and I doubt it’s all about the washing up.

Point of view: Why lazy research and social media don’t mix

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

The first rule of how to avoid a social media shitstorm is: do your research. Thoroughly. This shouldn’t be news, but it apparently still is.

Welcome to another episode of “marketing campaigns gone wrong”. Let me introduce to you another example of a simple and honest idea that turned into a catastrophe.

Germany’s well-known washing powder brand Ariel recently launched a campaign that featured football jerseys on re-designed packages, sporting a huge “88”. Apparently the number stands for 88 laundry loads you get from one package (5 more than before). So far so good? Well, unfortunately the number 88 is a commonly used code among right-wing extremists, as it symbolises the 8th letter of the alphabet and thus offers an encrypted version of the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler”. Naturally it didn’t take long for this to trigger outrage online.

Sarky suggestions to rename Ariel to “Aryan” and word-plays with the term “Neue Konzentration” (“new concentration”) on the packaging spread across all major social media channels. Fortunately P&G reacted swiftly and recalled all of the packages that had already been shipped to retail outlets.

I wrote about a similar mistake involving a detergent brand in my debut on 1000heads.com years ago – but the lesson obviously still needs repeating. Do a sanity check on your big ideas, have your concept passed around in your agency and get feedback from as many of your colleagues as possible. And do this during the early stages of conception.

Fancy another example? Kreuzberg, where the 1000heads Berlin office is based, is up in arms because of a big sports brand that plans to hang a huge banner on the façade of a house during the World Cup – a house that was painted on by squatters back in the 1980s. People from the kiez (Berlin term for “neighbourhood”) are now protesting online and offline against the plan and the sport brand’s image has been tarnished.

Image source

It can be all too easy to get stuck inside a marketing echo-chamber. Get out of the office. Talk to people who don’t share the same passions or backgrounds as you. Sense-check your social ideas with your mum or even a stranger in the street.

A little common sense and a firm understanding of your community – on and offline – could save you a lot of heartache.

Point of view: Choosing your channels in a complex media environment

Friday, May 16th, 2014

I spend a large proportion of my working life talking about the virtues of word of mouth marketing, the power of social media and how it all fits into the ‘360’ marketing plan. And whether it’s a planning session for the next campaign, or a global marketing forum, there is a constant obsession with debating and deciding what’s in and what’s out.

Should we ditch Facebook for Pinterest? Should we drop print and go digital for this campaign? Both examples signify the type of ‘in and out’ debates that take place every day in our beloved industry. We can’t get enough of them.

Image: Geoff Livingston

Let’s look at the social platform debate first. Facebook or Pinterest? Should we bother with Google+? What on earth might we do with Snapchat?

Of course, the continual release of exciting new social media platforms and content creation tools has resulted in the need for brands to regularly review and refocus their social media efforts – our weekly Stay Ahead posts are geared towards helping them to do this. But the ‘in or out’ polarity is a shortsighted way to frame the debate.

The first question to ask is: what is our overall strategy to inspire people to talk about and engage with us? Get the big picture cracked first – along with solid business objectives and KPIs – and then focus on the platforms and tools that are fit for purpose. You need to build your social strategy around central immutable brand values and behaviours (e.g. transparency, boldness), informed by relevant social insights, before you start deciding which social platforms and tools work best for you.

Solid strategic planning is required to get this right, but the outcome could be beautifully simple. For example, to demonstrate the pioneering and innovative attributes of your brand, you could adopt a strategy of experimentation and ‘getting there’ first. You immediately embrace new technology and platforms, then after a phase of early adoption, stick with what works best. The first brands to use Vine, such as Dove, pulled this off pretty well.

Now on to the constant tug of war between marketing channels – should we drop print and go digital for this campaign? What about a mobile app instead?

Unsurprisingly, I am an advocate for embracing the bold new opportunities and technologies in MarComms, and channel debates do need to happen. Budgets are budgets, after all. However, this process has led to an unhealthy tendency to neglect the really important questions: How do we want people to feel when they experience this campaign? How will we inspire them to talk about and recommend us to their friends, colleagues and family?

The best approaches consider X and/or Y. They prioritise the idea over the channel plan. They don’t think about what’s in and what’s out, they think about creating the best experiences possible that will inspire people to share, recommend and care. They embrace every platform, medium and technology that will work hardest and make a vision become reality.

So what does this mean for the future?   Firstly, as social media marketing and platform adoption matures, the norm will be to think beyond platforms and focus first on values, behaviours and shared passions. The smart folks are doing this already, and seeing the real and game-changing results that come from it. Nail the human motivation, and people will take conversation and content wherever they choose to roam.

Secondly, as the marketing mix becomes deeper and richer, brands will become braver. More channels will be explored and there will be less assumed and premature decisions on the final channel execution and budget allocation.

This may well challenge existing processes, requiring a new degree of flexibility and reactivity. Good marketing does not reward comfort or familiarity. But the challenge is a healthy one, beneficial to both companies and consumers, and the outcome will be a much more effective and intuitive way of working.