Tuesday, 28 July 2009

What youth marketing satire looked like 45 years ago

I watched Hard Day's Night for the first time in a few years at the weekend, and aside from being just as funny as the last time and the many times before, the scene where George Harrison takes a wrong turn and wanders into an audition for Beatles lookalikes to add a bit of product placement into a TV show really made me think that we haven't moved that far in 45 years

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Do not disturb....

On holiday, back in a couple of weeks. See ya

Chris Anderson's Free - Free here now

FREE (full book) by Chris Anderson

I turned up to Chris Anderson's Brand Republic/Spotify funded book launch event last week with a fairly cynical head on, as it seemed very likely that this going to be all about a book with a £20 odd price tag that explained why Free was a business model to compete with.... but if I was lucky I might get a free one to take away. Turns out that most of the marketing for the book is an ongoing experiment with some of the many and varied ways that Free can build a business for Paid. The first way was the abridged copy funded by Adobe and Brand Republic, which I'm half way through reading.
I probably won't buy the full version, but that's not really the point: I was only at an event that was handing it out because I work in a business that tends to pay Chris Anderson pretty well for setting up consultancy work with its clients.

The audio version though goes the other way - here you can have the full one free, but you pay for the abridged version, on the basis that with print, everyone reads at different speeds, but audiobooks can only be listened to at one speed. The value is therefore in getting the information quicker. Not sure I agree with that, but that isn't really the point: this is an ongoing experiment, which will be reported back on Chris's Long Tail blog, to show which of the theories in the book have actually worked in his own case.

And for anyone who wants a [free] preview, the full version is at the top of this page. I don't know if it will still be there in a week, as I think they are going to play around with the idea of time-sensitive scarcity as well (to paraphrase Withnail Free to those who know about it, very expensive to those that don't)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

#atishoo - Kleenex UK Hayfever map

HT to John Willshire's comments page, but to be fair I'd spotted the concept before, back when Ben Marsh first created it on #uksnow day back in February. But this is a branded version of the Twitter/Google Map mashup that ticks lots of boxes - it is useful (especially if you're a hayfever sufferer like me), it is social (we like to find fellow sufferers to whinge to, and this helps build a national suffering map out of it. And that you must agree is a uniquely British socialness), it is shareable (both by contributing to it on Twitter, and by embedding it below. I think that might be the first time I have seen something created for an FMCG site that is easily embeddable), and it makes sense for the brand (he says from bitter experience). Only problem is that it is a bit late in the summer (hopefully). Anyway, top work Kleenex

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The best content in the world

(Heron Island, AU - photo credit)
A while back I wrote a few bits about some of the ways that technology is going to make people's lives simpler: mostly concentrating on improving the bits of people's lives that revolve around people, information and entertainment (ie the good bit). The great thing that technology does is make connections with all these things much easier and faster. The problem for the traditional providers of information and entertainment is that technology allows people to miss out all the annoying ads that interupt what they are looking for. As technology gets smarter, this might well move from 'ability to avoid' to 'preset to ignore'. If the amount of available and personalised content exceeds your attention span, but your devices are able to filter it based on learnt preferences, then an advertisement has to be better than a programme (to use a TV analogy) before your devices will even recommend it. (BTW your devices WILL know more about what you want to watch than you will ever need to).

This causes a problem for brands, who have tended towards interuption of content to gain attention. The idea of branded content (which to me means informational or entertainment content that is at least as good as the best of non-branded content) has seemed like a holy grail to the media agency business, and one which has largely been diluted by ad-funded OFCOM regulated quasi-sponsorships on TV, or tactical product placement exercises online. Ads that are better then programmes are still either unrealistic or regulated out of existance (in the UK anyway).

So what has changed?
If you've seen much news in the last few months you'll know that a British bloke has blagged a job as the caretaker of an island on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. And that there was a recruitment campaign the first day back to work in January, then 35,000 entries uploaded, then a swim/blog/lounge-off for the shortlist in Queensland. As well as a some £50m worth of PR for the Queensland Tourist Board who commissioned the campaign and a Cannes Grand Prix for
CumminsNitro who created it. Not to mention 6 months on an island for Ben Southall who won.

And more importantly for the purposes of this post, the BBC have commissioned an hour of documentary about the selection process (which cleverly took place on some of the most beautiful islands that the tourist board looks after). This airs on Thursday at 9pm on BBC2 - primetime BBC real estate. This isn't ad-funded programming, this is ad-inspired programming - a campaign so good it inspires commissioning editors to join in, producing content that is all about marketing the destination (the whole point of the campaign).

(Slight tangent - I was going to put a link in this post to Marcus Brown's Content Manifesto, because it takes the future of agencies and tourist board marketing to the logical creative extreme, and so seemed relevant. But Marcus has turned the site into a book so I can't.)