As much as the media industry would like to believe the age old saying ‘all publicity is good publicity’, research by Visable technologies comparing Macys Vs Kohl’s and Target Vs Walmart Twitter interactions demonstrated that this is not always the case.

The report compares the amount of tweets sent out and the level of customer sentiment by the four retailers in the wake of ‘Black Friday’, when brands tend to overload consumers with advertising in the vain hope that they will be chosen over a competitor.

The report proves that too much advertising does not always get results. Kohl sent out 99.7% of the two retailers tweets in that week, yet the level of sentiment for Kohl’s was one of annoyance. However the report goes on to prove that if the material is fresh and relevant to customers, self promotion is not always a bad thing with Walmart sending out proportionally more Tweets than Target but these were seen by customers as original and fresh.

This shows that brands need to be aware of the rising consumer power and tailor fresh and personal communication to customers rather than trying to gain as much coverage is possible.

@t_bloore

In case you haven’t seen them yet – there’s an early Christmas battle going on between M&S and John Lewis for who can produce the best festive advert. I say ‘battle’ but it’s been won hands down by John Lewis for this wonderful, charming story. In case you haven’t seen the M&S one, have a look, if you dare, here. It’s basically, everything that was quite clever and well executed in the collective ‘Perfect Day’ remake for Children in Need, but made bloody horrible by using the X Factor contestants. Honestly, it’s just unpleasantly “"sixth-form-project”.

One key element here, in tapping into the Christmas market, is getting the tone, sentiment, and festive spirit *just right*. What underpins all of this is the soundtrack – get that wrong, and you’re on the back foot from the off.

John Lewis have used a wonderful, understated and elegant remake of the Smiths’ classic ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’, evoking an emotional feeling in those watching it, and – if initial reaction if to be considered – making is a success and something people are sharing across social media.

The M&S advert however, has a clumsy, hard on the ears and downright unlistenable cocktail of different vocals, vocal styles, and most importantly vocal abilities. Say what you like about Frankie being apparently quite rock ‘n’ roll and meaning well, but let’s be honest, that guy CANNOT sing. He just doesn’t suit ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’.

The soundtrack is the key to associating emotion and sentiment in the brain – if you have that fixed in, the advert is memorable for the right reasons and something people want to share and comment on. Watch the ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ trailer if you don’t believe me – it’s a wonderful example.

John Lewis hit the nail on the head, but M&S has sadly missed this entirely.

*UPDATE* we told you it was all about the music – someone’s done a minor mash-up using the theme from the Shining instead. changes it somewhat….

@wonky_donky

Anyone who tells you that they remember that particular Tuesday minute-by-minute is lying. Memories are fragmented, sporadic and come in bursts. Everyone remembers the weather, funnily enough – it was simply gorgeous. At the time I was Managing Editor of Pipe Dream, the student paper at my University and Monday night was production night for the Tuesday edition, (we published twice a week). I drove the paper to printers at 3AM and managed a few hours of sleep but rolling out of bed for English Lit II.

My first class of the day started at 9:05AM, but by 8:46AM, it was clear that I wouldn’t be spending my morning discussing the religions and sexual undertones of Jane Eyre.

Shortly after the collapse of the North Tower, I headed the paper’s offices to seek solace in the comfy green sofas littered with news editors, staff writers and left over pizza from the night before. There and then we decided to put out a special edition for the next day.

I would have then phoned the printer and set to work purchasing images from Getty, but I have no recollection of either of these tasks.

I set to work planning the issue, blocking the stories and assigning reporters to cover angles of the story across campus. We had very large Muslim and Jewish communities on our campus and University administrators were worried about any clashes. I sent a reporter to go talk to the Muslim Student Union, and then phoned the President’s office to get an official comment about violence reported against Muslims on other University campuses. 

Safe and sheltered on a closed college campus, we were painfully aware of what was unfolding thanks to 24-hour news, but also frustratingly far from family and friends who were there and dealing with a very real personal tragedy – we were stuck in a parallel universe of sorts.

The University swiftly cancelled classes and invited students affected to come forward for counselling and help. Several students turned up at the Pipe Dream office seeking community and something to do. A candlelight vigil was organized for that evening.

One of our professors got in touch to ask if we were all okay and we just said, “Yes, Ma’am, we’re putting out a special issue tomorrow and are all over it”. Years later, I realized that’s not what she meant.

In the days that would follow, I think I must have gotten very little sleep. We had the Thursday paper to get out next and we focused on capturing the unfolding political sentiment right here on our doorstep.

I also had to keep our advertisers happy that we would still put out a paper. “Would we run the Thursday issue without advertisements?” Papa Johns wanted to know. Yes, because it felt it was the right thing to do. Instead, we would allow student groups to publicize counselling sessions, student vigils and chartered busses for free. I was making it up as went.

Ten years later, I think all of us on Pipe Dream must have summoned great maturity on that day. It’s still hard to make sense of the absolute flood of conflicting reports in the 24-hours that followed, and understand how a bunch of (essentially) teenagers  put a newspaper together, while coping amid all the unanswered questions; were there other targets? Where were the missing planes? Where was the President? Who was behind this? Were we safe? 

That weekend, the campus emptied out as students from the City went home in chartered buses. I drove to my parent’s house in Upstate New York. We settled into the rhythm of 24-hour news; MSNBC in the kitchen, CNN in the family room and 1010WINS in the shower.

10 years on I still think very few of us have figured out how to make sense of that day.

An article in the FT today states that Facebook is set to become the worlds largest online display advertising company (by revenue). This is some accomplishment, overcoming Google and Yahoo.

Importantly this also comes off the back of the news that Facebook is now starting to challenge Google as a referrer of traffic to other websites which shows how far social referring has come in the last few years.

Certainly Twitter and now Facebook are the first port of call for internet users looking for news that interests them; a quick scan of your news feed is all a simple strategy for looking at news that fits your interests and passions. Much easier than looking at five different websites to find out the same information.

What does this mean for us? Well, as ‘Influencer Marketers’ we should bear this in mind. Getting social links and a high Facebook referral might be more significant than the Tech pages of the Daily Mail.

Maybe we should spend more time writing copy and tailoring ideas for Facebook these days?

@GLeney

There’s a joke which does the rounds in my house quite regularly stemming from my housemate’s exclamation that she ‘sees the world through media eyes’. This punchy statement was made without a hint or irony but a lot of innocence, as a 16 year old after her first ever media studies lesson. Since then, it has been held up as point of ridicule which she frequently cringes at. My point is that whilst I wouldn’t want to be quite so Nathan Barley about it, working in PR I feel I do have an awareness of a brand’s attempts to target consumers. As a result, whilst I’m genuinely interested in advertising and PR campaigns, I can be a tad cynical about the impact they will have on me as a consumer and can’t remember the last time I was consciously aware of an advert affecting my behaviour. That was until last week, when I went out and bought something, inspired purely by seeing an ad campaign.

It was a humble packet of the mint with the hole, the Polo. Polo hadn’t launched anything new, it hadn’t rebranded, it hadn’t done anything to alter the product I’ve bought and enjoyed in the past. But I was compelled to switch from my usual chewing gum, to a packet of the mints.

The campaign which caught my attention was very simple, centred on the question ‘Are you a sucker or a cruncher?’ A little Googling uncovers that this campaign is the first big advertising push Polo has done for 10 years and is targeted at medium to light buyers which make-up 80% of their customer base. The campaign was ‘designed to focus on emotional reasons for buying the brand by re-establishing its quirky, fun and playful personality rather than the rational thought process of the need for fresh breath’.

I’d have to say that they achieved this. I was compelled to buy a packet because of the element of participation the campaign suggests. Was I a sucker or was I a cruncher? I wanted to find out.

A bit more searching uncovered a Facebook presence to back up the campaign. Fan pages were built to form communities of‘suckers’ and ‘crunchers’, each attracting around 28,000 fans. The pages show a relatively good level of engagement and are very active, but out of curiosity I thought I’d see how my usual breath freshener of choice faired on the old ‘book. Wrigleys Extra has over 140,000 fans.

But does this matter? From my point of view, the campaign succeeded at its most fundamental level of changing my buying habits. But the people behind the campaign wanted to rebuild an emotional attachment and building a community around the brand is an important route to making this work long term. Only Polo’s sales figures will really be able to answer this, but in this case did an old school tactic of simple advertising trump more modern routes to success? My guess would be that in the short term yes, but once the current ad campaign ends, the lack of a sizeable community of online fans to carry on the conversations may prove a disappointment.

@AJGriffiths

As part of our work with Orange, at a Group level, we’ve recently been involved in the launch of Mobile Exposure 2010 research and the launch of a new tool for advertisers – the Orange Mobile Targeting Monitor.

We wanted to share the research findings on the Pheasant for a couple of reasons:

  • The data is interesting from a tech point of view.  It reveals what content mobile media users in the UK, France, Poland and Spain are engaging with and when.   Of particular note is how applications are sitting alongside the mobile browser.  The research is a bit of a bench mark, so as Smartphone penetration grows it will be interesting to see how this usage evolves.
  • The advertising tool highlights the insight that is used to build advertising campaigns.  As I said in a post last week, PRs need to continue to use data to inform our thinking

Included here is a deck with the key research highlights.  If this subject is particularly of interest to you – then whiz over to the Orange micro-site to read and view more.

@LukeMackay

*just in case the above isn’t clear….  Disclaimer: Orange is a client, and I work on the account.  Our team was involved in the creation of some of the Exposure 2010 materials*

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There’s going to be a fair amount of chat over the next few days about brand ownership. Current laws state that a company – say Marks and Spencer’s cannot advertise the terms Interflora and hijack customers.

However, there is no such rule stopping M&S buying the keyword Interflora on Google and hijacking those same customers who search for the term.

This is exactly what has happened though with these two companies and will be fighting it out today in the courts.

This has caused a bit of a storm in the SEO world and has major significance for all clients who own SEO words. In other words if M&S win, then you will see many firms buy their competitors brands.

The ethics of this is damned as law is more important.

As for Google – don’t they have a play in all of this?

The Register states that Google used to work with brand owners to stop their trade marks being used by others as keywords. Controversially, it changed its policy on 5th May 2008. Now almost any word is available for sponsorship, though Google’s policies still control the text of adverts that the keywords trigger.

What is essential to understand is that the traditional advertising model has become less important as search-terms take priority online.