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Posts from April 2010

Robin of Shoreditch and The Values of Brands

The 100 Brands Project from Robin of Shoreditch on Vimeo.

As the video above admirably explains, Robin of Shoreditch are an anonymous group of creative outlaws that are doing what they know how to do to help Haiti - creating ideas for brands. 

Specifically the top 100 brands by brand value, as listed on the BrandZ report that WPP puts together.

[Warning: This is a digression about brand valuation methodologies - you can skip it if you want...

The BrandZ valuation is made using discounted cash flow analysis

This is the sum of all future earnings attributable to the brand discounted to account for risk over time. 

This is pretty standard accounting stuff, but, as with all financial modeling, if you look closely at how it works, it's basically certain opinions, assumptions and predictions, structured into a spreadsheet.

The brand multiple is derived using the proprietary Brand Voltage metric, which 

"takes into account how many people are very loyal to the brand (the brand's bonding score) and claimed purchasing data for the category to produce a single Brand Voltage number." 

This means asking lots of people what they claim to do and then using it to guess what they will do in the futre. 

I think. 

Anyway, the final formula is this: 

Brand valuation method Brandz 

A big chunk of the formula is based on proprietary, claimed survey data that's been crunched in a certain way, which is worth keeping in mind. 

You can get the whole Brandz 2010 report here - and you should read it. 

There's lots of sensible thinking in it. 

And making what we do make sense to the finance guys is important. 

But always remember, when looking at research, that the methodology dictates both the nature and expression of the results, to a greater or less extent.

End of Digression]

And then invoicing them for one ten millionth of their supposed brand value if they want to use the idea - the money going straight to the Disaster Emergency Committee in Haiti. 

[To give you a number your brain can parse: since Nike was valued $11.9 million [in 2009], the brand will have to pay $1,199.90.] 

Invoicing is handled by their accounts department [justgiving] and you can find, friend, like, tweet, and find their blog from their 'homepage'.

So this is just lovely, isn't it? 

GO ON - try and be all cynical about this. I DARE YOU. Anonymous. GOOD THINGS. Haiti. 

And maybe, just maybe, it's a reminder that part of what makes brands valuable is their values.

The videos are simple and charming and have interesting IDEAS THAT DO in them and everything [I haven't found a single ad idea among them yet].

Here's one for T-Mobile about wishing everyone you know Happy Birthday for free with a reminder service that uses Open Graph [née Facebook Connect] - because, y'know, life's for sharing. 

This is good because, rather than trying to wrap product ads inside the brand platform - it is a product/service that brings the brand platform into the thing that the customer actually experiences and pays for and that.fa

Good work lads. 

Coda //

Little John: Are we good guys or bad guys? Our robbin' the rich to feed the poor?

Robin Hood: Rob? Tsk Tsk Tsk. That's a naughty word, we never rob! We just sort of borrow a bit from those that can afford it.

Little John: Borrow? Boy are we in debt!

Oo-De-Lally, Oo-De-Lally, Golly what a day

No Going Back

Media Madness

On Wednesday I'm giving the opening keynote at an AdCLub event called Media Madness: A Forward Look at the Media Marketplace.

I'm going to talk about some of the stuff I think happens to the economics and nature of media when it is no longer relatively scarce and changes in real time and that.

It will hopefully be fun.

Then there are some excellent looking panels, touching on new screens and behaviors, metrics and models - and the morning is being wrapped up the CMO of Kodak - Jeffrey Hayzlett, who has wholeheartedly embraced social media, most recently taking Kodak Moments into a sharing space. 

If you are about - do come and say hi. 

On the Spot [or Not]

On the Spot[I've removed the embed as it autoplays - you can see the film here

So I was giving a talk at the Swedish Creative Awards [The Golden Eggs] a couple of weeks back - which was awesome - and afterwards I had to do this panel discussion thing where a smart and lovely client called Shaun, who runs marketing for McDonalds in the Nordics, grilled me and the other speaker, a nice dude called Martin who runs a digital agency in the Nordics, about some of the stuff we were talking about.

It was fun. 

We spoke about how we measure stuff, and how brands should be a template of corporate behavior not an image you manufacture, and that doing GOOD THINGS is generally quite nice. 

About how branding seems to create price elasticity of demand, which means people pay more for the same thing, and also tend to buy it more frequently, for reasons we don't completely understand, but are definitely non-rational and a bit like magic.

Possibly. [Or at least predictably irrational]. 

I think this is worth remembering. 

Even in the age of utility and transparency and complexity and other awesome things I wholeheartedly believe in, because these things are what make up brand - totality of your actions in the world, not what you choose to communicate. 

Philosophically, there are two ways to understand the relationship between 'personality' and 'behavior'. 

Either actions are identity reflective - in that everything you do is an expression of some irreducible, unchanging essence that is you - or they are constitutive, in that who you are, that essence, is a function of those actions. 

I believe in processes not fixity: the river of Heraclitus, not the atoms of Democritus.  

I think we are constantly evolving, changing, growing, and therefore I believe in actions as the things that make us who we are.

I believe brand actions are identity constitutive NOT identity reflective, which means that you ARE WHAT YOU DO, and what you do changes who you are, not that your actions are a reflection of your brand. 

And this totality creates in aggregate a socially constructed reality that has some interesting effects on purchase behavior and share price.

People still pay more for branded good that operate at functional parity to generics and

[despite the endless protestations of a newly frugal consumer whose purchasing behavior has forever changed due to the recession,

which, in my opinion, is nonsense because recessions are blips that do not change basic human nature, and brands clearly operate at some non-rational level, otherwise they wouldn't work at all] 

I believe they always will.

Baby Got Butterfinger

Butterfinger has just launched a campaign featuring Lou Ferrigno, Charisma Carpenter and Eric Estrada as defenders who will stop your Butterfinger from being stolen.

Or something.

It seems they're targeting those of us old enough to remember these icons of geek television 

[the defenders all played defending type characters in shows over the last 3 decades or so]

especially since the launch video is a re-make of Sir-Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back. 

[As far as I know he didn't do any specific defending.]

It's been almost exactly a year since BK did a version about their Spongebob Squarepants promotion. 

Hopefully this means that re-making Baby Got [Your Brand Here] is now an annual event, coinciding with the arrival of spring, when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Please Be Brief

The brief in the post digital age

View more presentations from garethk.

Do you remember ages ago when we tried to come up with a better brief template together?

[As a footnote, I eventually got hold of M.T. Rainey and asked her about that IDEA brief - it did indeed exist, but she said it was pre-digital thing and may no longer be extant] 

Anyway, that was 4 years ago and, as I mention every now and again, goodness me things are changing FAST.

So it's very groovy that Gareth has written a this deck about briefing in a post digital world, where identity is distributed, things are complex, attention must be earned, and ideas must DO.

Lovely, lovely stuff. 

[Also do check out Nick's ace deck on digital briefing.] 

Digital Decaplet

Decade Digital

The Marketing Society in the UK is an organisation of client marketers 

[I've always wondered about the pronunciation of the word marketers - I hear it said like Musketeers but that seems...odd to my ears]

that looks to drive bolder, more effective, marketing ideas and strategies. 

They have asked me to contribute to their digital thinking blog every now and again so to kick it off I thought I'd write an update to my 9 digital aphorisms for 09, with ten digital behaviors for the new decade. 

Here's a sample:

Digital is not a channel. It’s a suite of platforms, channels and tactics that will, ultimately subsume its parents entirely.

Digital marketing is not simply a new place to disperse persuasive symbols, but the emergence of any entirely new behavioural grammar, as companies and their customer begin to engage with each other in entirely new ways in entirely new spaces, where everyone has an equal voice.

The decaplet of digitally determined marketing maneuvers include some old favorites, like earning attention and getting rid of the viral metaphor, and some newer ones, like ideas that create content and the spreadability of awe.

You can read them over at The Marketing Society Blog - let me know what you think. 

Remember Who You Are

Echo Chamber 

Over on Gaping Void, Hugh has been hosting a series of guests posts, all anchored to the theme Remember Who You Are.

I was very excited when he asked me to be part of it. 

Back, back in the day, Hugh and Russell were out there blogging before most of us really knew that anything was going on, showing us what could be done with the emerging form, helping to define the grammar of the space. 

Back then, I would never have guessed that I would get to be a guest. 

I wrote a thing about advice, stealing from Hamlet and Kurt Cobain [now I come to think of it, they are quite similar characters]:

The important thing to realize is that, eventually, you have to start being you.

And then - you need to get really good at it.

You can read the rest on Gaping Void - thanks Hugh! 

Ideas That Do

Gareth's five minute Transformer's video is well worth watching. 

As he says, it feels like some of us have been saying this stuff for a while: that changing perceptions don't really change behavior [but rather the other way around], and that we have to stop saying stuff and start having Ideas That Do

But we still don't have many actual examples, beyond the endlessly overused Nike+, so we need to get it together and strive to get Ideas that Do through. Not simply brand utilities, but brand behavior in all its various forms

Ideas that can be advertised, rather than advertising ideas. 

Just Do It, so to speak. 


Better Living Through Technology

Just as transmedia producer gets approved as a real job by the Producer's Guild of America, thanks largely to the efforts of Jeff Gomez, transmedia fragments of Iron Man 2 begin to leak out of its narrative world and onto the web.

This technotopic promotional video for a Stark Enterprises subsidiary begins to develop the backstory of the companies that will be showcased at the Stark Expo, the key plot element of the movie, which also has a corresponding facebook page so you can fan or like it or whatever.

So far so cute - more elements are to be released over the coming weeks, riffing off the No More Weapons agenda Stark is pushing in the film.

Whilst I loved Fatboy Slim's Better Living through Chemistry in its time, I'm stealing this line as a clarion call for the industry 

The Googlemind had some interesting, peculiar and frankly disturbing other routes to better living...

Screen shot 2010-04-07 at 12.32.46 PM
Screen shot 2010-04-07 at 12.36.55 PM

Buzz from The Hive Awards

A while back I was asked to judge the inaugural Hive Awards by the lovely Alan and I happily agreed. 

The Hive Awards were designed to reward the unsung heroes of the interwebs - coders and IAs and UX designers and other geek players that actually make the stuff, the innovators and planners and content strategists that make it make sense. 

The winners were announced at a very pleasant outdoor event at SXSW and Alan has helpfully put the deck up so everyone can have a look.

As always with award stuff, I'm excited to see what agencies think is their best stuff, what gets awarded and what that says about how we are currently thinking about the industry and the direction it needs to head. 

To highlight a couple of trends:

1. Digital Events

Since I've been harping on about the intersection of the web and the world for years now, it's gratifying to see some innovative use of digital platforms to extend and enrich live events.

Nokia Rhianna Live: awesome use of QIK technology to provide multiple viewpoint livestream

(RED) Nights: uses social media tags to rebuild the event from social media fragments of people who were there

2. Useful Technology

There are two points on the hype cycle to use a technology if you are brand: at the very beginning, when the novelty and early adopterness of it says something about your brand [see GE's use of augmented reality] and when you can think of something useful to do with it [see AKQA's Postal Service AR Virtual Box Simulator]. 

Postal Service AR Virtual Box Simulator: let's you see how big a box you need with AR

Nike Training Club: Turn your iPhone into a personal fitness instructor. Without the guilt. 

3. Real Time Creativity

Creating low latency ideas that move and respond at the speed of culture is hard - it's an incredible strain on the existing systems of production. 

One way around this is to create a framework and allow real time data to feed it, or leverage existing infrastructures and APIs that allow on-demand production.

CNN Shirts: This ideas does both:T-shirts that you could order on demand , using spreadshirt, with any CNN headline inscribed on it.

We'reAllFans:The site creates beautiful images of the nominated Grammy artists from content tagged with the artist name on twitter, youtube and flickr.