Rich Clark Marketing

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


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New Series of The Apprentice Starts Tuesday

Whilst writing about the new series of The Apprentice is hardly a normal topic for a Marketing blog, I make no apology for it.  For me The Apprentice is up there with the top programmes on TV.  Both from a creative point of view and the way they have made people understand that a career in commercial organisations need not be boring.

My main hope for this series of The Apprentice is that they have selected candidates that want to be on the show for business reasons, not to try to catapault themselves in to a mini-celebrity.  The likes of Saira Kahn, Ruth Badger and more recently Kate Walsh have been good candidates but seemingly as intent on celeb status than a job with Lord Sugar.

The challenges provide great tests of the candidates talent and commercial acumen, although they quite often focus a lot on sales.  The characters are often so far out in terms of how exagerated they become to achieve stand-out for the crowd, some end up becoming parodies of themselves.

People in my network of friends have often said I should enter The Apprentice as they believe I could do well.  Frankly I don’t think I could put up with some of the candidates and how they behave, so its probably best I stay away.

Anyway, the show starts on BBC 1, Tuesday at 9pm and the candidates have already been unveiled.  We have people from all walks of life including the usual suspects from Sales and Marketing Backgrounds. I for one will be glued to my set to see how the candidates shape up and will expect the losing project manager to go in the first episode.

One element of sadness is that Margaret left the team.  That isn’t a negative around Ms Brady (Peschosolidio), more an endorsement for Margaret.  You could tell both her and Nick had an honest working relationship with Lord Sugar and none of it was forced.  With Karen because she was added to the show it fills a little more ‘done for TV’.

That being said, I can’t wait to hear Lord Sugar say for the first time, You’re Fired!

Oh one other slight negative, I really don’t like the after show half as much now Adrian Chiles has left.

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Product Placement back on UK TV

Regulation U-Turn

Simon Cowell PhotoAs terrestrial commercial TV revenue streams continue to struggle in these difficult financial times, the government have agreed in principal to lift the ban on product placement on TV.  However this isn’t an even playing field as the ban is still likely to effect productions made for the BBC.

In theory the lifting of the ban could produce a decent level of secondary advertising income for programmes such as Coronation SCheryl Cole Photo from X Factortreet or Hollyoaks, however I would question the actual volume revenue unless we get into placements on the scale of those seen in 80s American blockbusters such as Superman.  I can picture X-Factor now, Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole drinking from very well branded Coca Cola glasses.  The introduction really needs to have some clear parameters.  The move is rumoured to be worth c. £100m to the commercial broadcasters, something that would be welcomed in these troubled times.  Contrary to some of the critics, I don’t see such a big issue as long as programme writers and producers can keep their editorial integrity in place.

The benefit of this U-turn does provide an improvement to the ambience of the sets in drama series.  Rather than some bizarre made-up lager in the Woolpack we will actually see genuine brands, making it more realistic.  Why should Eastenders be any different though?

If advertisers can get their products in the right placements and done in a non-intrusive way it could really support their brand.  Association with popular programmes or characters could help support their brand credentials.  However association with programmes such as reality shows could provide as many issues as benefits.  I would imagine that Big Brother would have made a significant amount of money from product placement.  Imagine the likesPhoto of Big Brother 10 Winner Sophie of Craig from the original series drinking a can of Carlsberg.  Or this years Big Brother winner Sophie tucking into Cadburys Dairy Milk.


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Football Sponsorship in the changing climate

Is the backdrop for sponsorship changing?

There is a lot of talk in both the marketing and sports arenas that the climate for sponsorship is changing.  Sponsorship in football isn’t new.  During the 1920s Lillywhites negotiated exclusive rights to publish FA fixture lists.  In the 30s the top players of the time such as Sir Stanley Matthews, were seen to endorse and advertise a range of products from cigarettes to mens cosmetics.  So David Beckham was beaten in his endorsements by some 70 years.david beckham england

In the 70s football was in the midst of a mini economic crisis, crowds were falling and players’ wages increasing.  The Football League decided to create some (short-lived) tournaments such as the Texaco Cup and the Watney Cup (won by Bristol Rovers).  However it was the Football League Cup that secured the first major sponsorship deal in 1982, the Milk Cup was formed.  Most of the major tournaments have since secured sponsorship deals, either associate or title sponsorship.

The combined factors of the economic downturn and the rise of online for more than just purely acquisitional methods of promoting your brand, has helped to create this perception.  Examples of the changing commercial climate in football were cited, when the likes of Setanta failed to make their rights to major football pay.  The collapse of Setanta in the UK despite rights to Premier League football and Scottish Premiership and several other high profile sporting occassions could be perceived as the end of the commercial euphoria that has changed the English game.

Never has the English game been under this kinf of pressure since ITV Digital collapse put a number of English clubs at risk.  The increase of clubs entering administration in the game at the lower levels also adds fuel to the fire.  The current decline of the pound against  the Euro (combined with 50% tax rate) is also resulting in some top players such as Ronaldo moving abroad or considering the move.

All doom and gloom?

However, there is still an influx of cash from (in the main) overseas backers, meaning football at all levels is still getting investment.  This isn’t just top flight any more, the likes of Southampton and Notts County are also being pushed.  The fact that Setanta had their rights replaced so promptly by the likes of ESPN also helped ease some of the concerns.

There are also some key sponsorship deals that have been signed recently including Chelsea‘s deal with Samsung.

A new approach

Obviously it isn’t always possible to rely on investment from overseas billionaires.  For every Chelsea and Abrahmovic there are 50 not so fortunate clubs.  So how do they survive?  Well frankly, some don’t, however others have discovered more creative approaches to their sponsorship.

Some of the clubs have benefited from giving away naming rights.  For example when Arsenal moved from their long-term Highbury home to their new stadium, Emirates Airways secured a reported 10 year muli-million pound deal to create the Emirates Stadium.   A number of traditional supporters think this is a step too far, however most accept that this is the current trend and the only way to stay competitive.  So stadiums have been sponsored, shirts don logos, individual players have become commodities, the only thing left is the club itself, steeped in tradition and part of the community.  Not for too long.  Whilst accepted overseas with the likes of Eindhoven being name PSV (Philips) and Salzburg (FC Red Bull Salzburg) bringing corporate life to the centre of their existence.  Now financially troubled Stirling Albion are looking to go the same route and offer naming rights on a five year deal.  Whilst it will undoubtedly annoy the real traditional football followers it is better to keep the club going.

Whilst other lower league clubs continue to grapple with the current climate not all are going down the extreme route of auctioning their identity.  Bristol Rovers took the creative route to gain revenue by raffling its shirt sponsorship.  The club claim to have come up with the idea as they feared their sponsorship revenue would decrease if they managed to secure one at all.  The raffle is estimated to have generated double the revenue that they would have expected for sponsorship in a growing economy.  It also created a lot of buzz around the community and generated some good PR.

Whatever happens to the economy overall, the British game will continue and will without a shadow of doubt continue to generate revenue, either from wealthy investors, major sponsorship tie-ups or the inventive methods shown by smaller clubs such as Stirling Albion and Bristol Rovers.

What about the sponsors?

Never has the need for sponsors to connect to the recipients of their sponsorships been so great.  With the growing consumpion of alternative media, people are now driving the news and owning the media agenda.  With the likes of Twitter or Facebook, users can endorse or undemine a sponsorship within mintues of its announcement or perhaps more importantly within minutes of being exposed to it.

Big Brother LogoAny organisation that sponsors any property, whether it is a football club, event or a broadcast property such as Big Brother, needs to have a reason to be associated.  When I was at Nationwide we developed a whole campaign that enveloped our sponsorship properties (primarily the England Football Team).  Our “Sponsored by You” campaign put all the perks of being a corporate sponsor back in the hands of our members and the average fan.  Members of Nationwide could win VIP tickets to see England, get a player to a local school or get signed merchandise.  It also encourage winners to post videos or photos of their experience.  This kind of approach allows the organisation a place within the recipients passion, and makes them feel welcomed. 

Sponsors need to move away from thinking about sponsorships as merely a means to get their name out to a mass audience.  They really need to make them work or face a waste of marketing spend that could have been utilised to a far greater degree elsewhere.


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Top Organic Search Terms – Helps with PPC development?

Fastest Growing Search Terms

So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that finding the top search terms can help your PPC.  You don’t have to be a Marketing guru to comprehend that allowing your PPC and SEO to work hand-in-hand enables you to create maximum efficiencies from you SEM.  But what else can this simple analysis provide?

Well the 2008 Search Reviews from the major players, gives us some fascinating yet simple views.

Search as Navigation

Of the Top 10 search terms in Google in 2008, only three could be described as non-navigational.  This could be the output of lazy typing or perhaps a result of Google toolbar being installed on more regular internet users.   Does Google’s feeling lucky help make it quicker than typing a full URL in the address bar?  Maybe it is a consequence of the new generation of surfers typing addresses in the toolbar and thinking it is the navigational tool.  (I know people that do that).

Aside from the obvious trend of people typing in simple websites that need little investigation, e.g. BBC – it also uncovers a growing influence of Social Media.

Has it evolved?

In 2006 there were different terms, however navigational searches still dominated, as did “Web 2.0” – a major sporting event also dominated with World Cup being in position 3.  Interestingly the word video was number 7.  No sign of YouTube at the time.

The Difference Between Engines

The Top 10 UK Searches on Google in 2008

facebook

1. Facebook

2. BBC

3. YouTube

4. eBay

5. Games

6. News

7. Hotmail

8. Bebo

9. Yahoo

10. Jobs

Compare this to Yahoo

britney-spears1

1. Britney Spears

2. Big Brother

3. X Factor

4. Oasis

5. High School Musical 3

6. US Election

7. Amy Winehouse

8. Heath Ledger

9. Kate Moss

10. Eastenders

The comparison would clearly indicate a difference in behaviour between the two main search engines in the UK.  Google Top 10 contains more navigational and generic searches (possibly related to toolbar), whilst Yahoo contains more celebrity based enquiries.  The queries also centre more around topics with potential scandal or gossip attached.

What does this mean?

Well whilst it could be argued that this comparison can be taken with a pinch of salt, there is an indication of searchers.  If I was responsible for a Finance brand, I would feel more alliance with the Google base.  If however, I was running PPC for a DVD or music retailer, I would push more towards maximising my presence on  Yahoo.  Whilst this is easy to push in pure black and white, one must remember that Google dominates the search market spectrum in the UK.  No matter what sector, who your audience is or what you are trying to say, unless you are very specific in your targets or operate in a niche, you must always use Google.

The findings in the comparison may however help you to adapt your ad copy to a certain degree.  Depending on your brand you may wish to adapt your tone of voice as well.

As a quick bonus tip, use a site called GrabAll, this tool allows you to see the search results of the major search engines side by side.  Not great for complex research or reviews, but very useful for quick snapshots.