Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Blendtec – Will it Blend

Will it Blend?

Blendtec is not really unique. It isn’t a particularly inventive idea. It isn’t even particularly well produced (although that is the point).  So why am I featuring it?

The simple truth is that Blendtec founder, Tom Dickson, took one of the 5 F’s of Social Media and used it to bring to life, a quite frankly, dull subject, blenders.  While most manufacturers were trying to make the products either sound like a must-have or focussing on key features, Blendtec took the unprecedented step of trying to make the topic of blenders fun.

What is it?

Blendtec was created after Tom first tried to blend a box of matches.  The mess created, inspired Tom to kick-off his unusual marketing campaign, which has turned into a viral success.  Blendtec now has its own sites with regular videos being placed on the site.  Tom Dickson still stars and utilises his inane grin as he subjects the items to the blender.

The campaign took off from almost day one.  The fact that the episodes offered shock value was enough, but the fun factor hasn’t tired.  Each episode centres on an item that really shouldn’t be blended, lighters, cans of fizzy drink and even a 6ft garden rake.

Part of Will it Blend’s appeal however is the fact that Tom normally offers up a reason for things being blended.  A common request from fans of the show is to blend a crowbar.  In one episode which appeared to bow to viewer demand it appeared Tom was going to attempt to blend a crowbar.  Completely by chance, this was interupted by a mobile phone.  Tom’s response was to blend each and every phone of the crew.

He has also earned money by doing shows based around the superbowl, blending in relation to movie launches and a disc of GTA IV.  Perhaps the standout feature was when Tom blended his iPhone citing the reason that he needed to upgrade.  The shock value in one of the most in-demand products being destroyed in front of your eyes made this episode one of the most watched in the series.

Fun

For me this is a perfect example of a campaign that just works.  It strikes a chord with people as it demonstrates a rather dry subject and creates theatre, involving something that the general public wouldn’t consider.  The main underlying theme for me is that the deliberately cheesy set-up and low-cost production values make the whole thing, a lot of fun.  This is truly one of the most successful viral/social campaigns there has been.  Not purely because of the buzz created.  Not purely because of the sheer volumes of views it has received.  This campaign has delivered real commercial return.

It is rumoured this very low budget viral has delivered up to 500% sales growth.  Proving that impact campaigns can deliver real commercial benefit.


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Do us a Flavour

Walkers – Do us a flavour

So in the first of the case studies to illustrate my 5 F’s theory, comes Walkers and “Do us a flavour”.

The Context

Walkers has always enjoyed a special closeness with the British public.  A relationship that has brought them huge commercial success and an almost dominant position in the crisp market.  Unlike most dominant players in their sector, there seems relatively little animosity towards Walkers.

Part of this has been down to product development but this significant position has also been achieved through great marketing.  Picking up on the status of national hero Gary Lineker was a masterstroke, and it is a relationship that still lives on today.  Walkers are responsible for creating some magic moments with some of the in-demand public profiles.  The classic example of this was when Walkers created a football execution involving Gary Lineker and a tearful Gazza (Paul Gascoigne).  Other celebrities such as Charlotte Church and more recently Cat Deeley have appeared.

Rather than develop the same theme and just extend it, Walkers created a real point of difference.

The campaign

In 2008, Walkers “Do us a flavour” campaign moved their advertising on by taking participation to a whole new level.  Capturing the mass love of social media and User-Generated-Content (UGC), Walkers created a campaign that involved the public and created a genuine national debate.  The beauty of the campaign was that it didn’t live in one space or develop through one-channel it almost became part of the British way of life.  The campaign obviously lived online.  However it also crossed TV ads, in-store, outdoor, radio,  mobile and even IVR (Interactive Voice Response).

The fact that the public suggested over 1.2m flavours (that equates to 2% of the UK population submitting a flavour) and over 1m votes on the final shortlist, proves what a storm the campaign created.

The campaign essentially became the first large-scale initiative to put the British public in control.  The election process was clear and straightforward.  Crowd sourcing at its best.  In hindsight this was a masterstroke as the campaign was also live when realtiy TV was at its peak.  All shows that centre on the population (viewers) being in control.

On top of all these factors, Walkers didn’t throw away the heritage and familiarity of its previous campaigns, Gary Lineker remained a focal point of the campaign.

So why did it work?

Well, partly down to the fact that Walkers spent a hell of a lot of cash on the campaign.  However, you could argue that this was no more than they would have spent on a standard campaign.  So Fortune was a factor in terms of spend.

For me the F’s that really made the difference were Fame.  The chance that “normal” people could get a massive amount of coverage regardless of whether they won.  Their creations, designs or concepts would reach hundreds of thousands of people, very few opportunities like that exist, unless you have an immense Talent (then maybe you could get on X-Factor).  The second success factor was Fortune (not the campaign spend).  The winner secured a huge £50,000 prize.  If that wasn’t enough, they also got 1% share of the revenue for all future sales, in theory, thats the pension sorted.

In my view the combination of social media nuances, putting the people in control and a massive fortune to the winner was a sure fire hit.  Yes the campaign spend did help.

And the winner is…

I suppose after waxing lyrical about the campaign it is only fair to reference the winning flavour – its was of course – Builder’s Breakfast.


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Ad of the decade?

Ad of the decade

I recently found myself watching inane television, sometimes it just has to be done.  In between wrapping Christmas presents along came a show on ITV called Ads of the Decade.  As a Marketing professional how could I not watch this?  I began mentally preparing a list in my head Cadburys Gorilla, Meerkat, Bud, Honda Choir, Honda Cog, Levis twisty jeans, Honda Hate Something – sparking some great online activity  (in fact Honda come out quite a lot) maybe even the Coke Happiness Factory.

Which ad would win it though? A whole lot of advertising thought leadership and creative development ready to be audited, reviewed and ranked.

The list (in alphabetical order)

1. Barclaycard: Waterslide
2. Budweiser: True / Wassup
3. Cadburys: Drumming Gorilla
4. Cadburys: Eyebrows
5. Carlsberg: Old Lions
6. Citroen C4: Transformer
7. Compare the Market: Compare the Meerkat
8. Guinness: Tipping Point
9. Halifax: Howard
10. Honda: Cog
11. Hovis : Go On Lad
12. John Smiths Bitter: Various ft. Peter Kay
13. John West Salmon: Bear
14. PG Tips – Monkey
15. Skoda: Bake
16. Sony Bravia: Balls
17. Sony Bravia: Paint
18. Sure for Men: Stunt City
19. T Mobile: Dance
20. Volkswagen: Singing in the Rain

And the winner is…

There were some great ads in the top 20 list.  Some real outstanding examples and some not so great ones on the roster.  So who would seem the most obvious?  Honda’s are really creative, T-Mobile brought Flash-Mob to the mainstream, Monkey was both creatively good but also really funny and Cadburys Gorilla created such a buzz in both pub and online conversations.  Howard…?  Well enough said.

The Sony Bravia ads were brilliantly produced and I am amazed the paint execution didn’t rank higher.  That being said the winner was the Hovis ad directed by Ridley Scott and when it first aired was the longest ever advert on British TV, some 122 seconds long.  Obviously symbolic of the fact the first Hovis loaf was sold some 122 years ago.

I love the ad and it is a great representation of Britain through the years.  The production values are outstanding and the story is executed in a good manner.  Is it the best ad of the decade?  I am not entirely sure, although I can understand why people would vote it.

Whatever your view, the list represented a diverse mix of ads with different types of executions.  It shows that there are streams of creative excellence still strong in the UK advertising industry.

The future

So when we reach the ends of the teens and 2019 draws to a close, will we be talking about a list of TV ads or will it be some completely different medium.  Maybe internet, apps or a channel that has yet to emerge.  One thing is certain, as marketeers we will need to think of ever increasingly creative ways to communicate with our audiences.  We will also need to consider how our audience will want to consume our messages or even lead us.


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5 F’s of Social Media

5 F’s of Social Media

Over a few posts I will highlight a number of case studies highlighting examples where brands have successfully implemented a social media concept.  To help illustrate the cases I may also identify a couple of the social media disasters.  A great recent example is the DSGi Facebook group where employees openly criticised customers.

However in this post I would like to highlight something that I call the 5 F’s of social media.  Don’t worry I’m not going to teach 5 new profanities beginning with the letter F.  Us marketeers like simple number-letter concepts to help add context to a piece of theory (4 P’s of Marketing).  This will also help me frame the case studies in future posts.

My 5 F’s theory does exactly that.  It highlights 5 distinct criteria – that if all are met, I believe most social media campaigns or activity will succeed.  Each campaign doesn’t necessarily have to hit all the buttons and success could also be achieved by simply turning up the volume on one or two of the areas.

Familiarity

To make any social media/participative marketing campaign a success brands really need to understand their target audience and the objectives of engaging with them.  If you can really get to grips with who your audience is and what they want then you will gain a genuine connection.  With this connection the community or audience should do your work for you, participate and  help towards growing the campaign.Pepsi Amp App

The best method to underline the importance of this particular F is when people get it wrong.  Pepsi’s recent campaign “helping men pull girls” which helped alienate half their audience (namely women).  They obviously had great intentions to undertake something cool and exciting on social media utilising app technology – however it seems to be a classic case of letting the technology rule the idea.

Even if your intention isn’t to run a ‘cool’ participative marketing campaign but to have a presence within social media, you still need to be familiar with your target audience.  Remove the word media from social media and you have social.  People using these channels generally do so to communicate with each other.  They align themselves with likeminded people and as a consequence, generally don’t like companies just plying them with promotional messages.  Brands need to earn trust and the right to have a place talking to people via social.  You need to be familiar to know what messages people want to receive, above all you must be open enough to reflect the audience wishes and feedback.

Fortune

Fortune covers two angles.  Participative marketing campaigns can be amplified if brands put budget behind them.  Social is not free.  You need to make the same investment in those campaigns as you would any other.  Don’t be so blinkered to imagine all promotion has to take place through social media.  People engaging with social media also consumer other media, the ObaWalkers Do Us A Flavourma campaign perfectly illustrates.  The campaign lived within social media, utilising strengths of various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, however substantial investment was made in traditional channels to support this activity.

That being said, the investment doesn’t necessarily need to be in promotional activity.  Participative marketing can benefit from having a great (relevant) payoff for the participants.  A prize or even an ongoing cash amount for people submitting entries (Walkers – Do Us a Flavour).  This incentivises participants to think in detail about their response or become more creative.  The lure of some ‘fortune’ will also help spread word of mouth associated with your campaigns.

Fame

In 1968, Andy Warhol once famously created the phrase, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  This seems to be the undertone for the society we currently live in.  With the rise of reality TV shows and YouTube heroes, everybody does have their opportunity and indeed millions are positively striving for their shot at fame.  Just look at some of the hopefuls on XFactor.

With this in mind, if you can offer X Factor Logothe chance of fame as part of your social media strategy, no matter how small, their is a greater chance of success.  As with the familiarity section, the accolade has to be in tune with your audience.  There is no point providing the platform to be an Exhibitor in the Tate to a group of stereotypical football fans.  Neither would a DJ contest be of any interest to a group of traditional BBC Radio 4 listeners.

If you get it right, the element of fame can really engage with your audience.  Even if the fame is only restricted to a particular social network.  The YouTube phenonomen is a classic example of this.

Fun

As with most activity online, making it fun is a key consideration.  If you can entertain your audience you are more likely to gain the talkability factor.  A sense of fun adds an element of personality to a brand.  This does not necessarily mean the concept has to be funny, more just fun, engaging and entertaining to the audience.

Again, being in-tune with your audience is crucial.

Forwardability

If you have one or all the of the above elements cracked to a good level then you should have produced activity that has the potential to be forwarded.  Your presence needs to be in peoples’ e-mail boxes.  On their phones and referenced on their individual social media profiles.  Your need to be so current to the audience and reflect what they want that they are proud to be associated with the brand.  The audience will do the work for you.

Remember, get it wrong and they are just as likely to forward to their friends but paint a very negative and potentially damaging response.

The package

So this was an initial attempt at placing some theory behind social and participation marketing.  This is by no means exhaustive and I will hopefully come back from time to time to refine the concept of the 5 F’s.  I will also be looking at some case studies to critique and test my theory of the 5 F’s, so if you have any candidate campaigns or brands, please feel free to contact me.