Posts Tagged ‘advertising’
Yesterday, I saw a great post called “The First Rule of Branding” from former Algonquin College colleague Lisa Haggis, who’s now on her own as a branding consultant. My two-sentence summary of her post: “Customers want to love you. Don’t turn them off.”
And then this morning, I was meeting with friend and colleague Meredith Luce, a local graphic designer (and, as a side note, one of my favorite performers in all the world), and we were talking about businesses and design, when she said, “Sometimes it’s like hearing a friend is going out on a hot date and you look at her and say, ‘You’re going out dressed like that?? At least invest in a mirror.‘”
I burst out laughing. But what she had said, and what Lisa had written, were stuck in my head enough that I needed to write this.
As a business, the “frilly stuff”, like graphic design or customer experience, might seem unnecessary. As Lisa wrote in her post,
“People will evaluate your brand as a whole, not as individual experiences… exceptions – that one off-topic blog post, cheap marketing collateral, or a contradictory offering – will throw off the whole experience.”
Whether it’s media relations, sales, graphic design, social media — when you’re in business, you’re always going out on dates. Hopefully, those dates develop into relationships (I’m not getting into polygamy or polyamory metaphors, please and thank you). You should be thinking:
But if you go out with your metaphorical fly unzipped or your pantyhose tucked into your skirt… you could end up like this:
Don’t leave a glaring hole in your customer experience. For that matter, don’t leave a subtle one either.
I saw a very disappointing infographic this morning, via Dave Forde’s PR in Canada site. Produced by the Max Borges Agency, it chronicles the history of public relations. I was interested to scan it. And so I did. I invite you to do the same:
Okay. Notice something?
- Ben Franklin.
- Tom Paine.
- Ivy Lee advising John D. Rockefeller.
- Edward Bernays advising Coolidge on foreign affairs.
And what do we have representing the last 13 years, the 2000s?
- Taco Bell and the crash of Mir.
- A PR stunt for The Dictator, a movie that hasn’t even made its budget back yet.
- And Oreo tweeting about a power failure.
As entertaining as these entries are, are they telling us something? I think they are. PR practitioners should look at this and ask themselves on what side they fall. Are they contributing substance, or are they simply carrying out stunts? Are they using the tools of communication at their disposal (obviously including the suite of tools that make up “social media”) to make change, to influence people on important issues, or is it about a cookie or a taco?
And if we’re seeking to summarize our contributions to society, are those the best examples we can find? What about the role of Twitter in the Iranian demonstrations? What about the ability of people to organize using social media to create events like Twestival? What about the Tylenol crisis? I could go on.
If public relations is to be considered a serious discipline, doesn’t it makes sense that we take on serious work, and talk about serious issues? And talk about them in public? Sometimes I think I oughtta find a new career.
I rarely blog in anger. But my blood is boiling right now.
I got pointed this morning to a blog post by a UK copywriter.
She called out Hyundai, and its ad agency Innocean, for this ad:
In case this is pulled, the idea is this: Man tapes up his car windows, seals himself in the garage, and feeds his Hyundai’s exhaust into the car. But it’s so green, he can’t complete the act of suicide.
Copybot writer Holly Brockwells was upset by this for two reasons. One, it’s offensive. Two, her father killed himself in just this way when she was a child.
I, too, am a survivor of suicide in my family. And I can’t tell you how angry and upset I am that someone would not only conceive of this ad, but then go through all the steps necessary to COMPLETE it.
I’m not going to go through all the reasons why this is so offensive and hurtful. You’re all smart enough to know why already. So some advice: whatever your work is within the world of communications and PR and social media, ask yourself a question:
Is what I’m doing or saying decent?
If the answer’s no, STOP.
UPDATE: Hyundai has issued a terse apology for the ad: “We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate European video featuring a Hyundai. Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.” Note that they are distancing themselves from it being a Hyundai ad. I have reached out to Hyundai’s media team asking questions about this. This National Post story suggests Hyundai wasn’t involved in making the ad.
Bad Science blogger Ben Goldacre says this ad could actually increase suicide rates by this method.
UPDATE 2: I have a response from Hyundai USA’s corporate comms folks and a statement from Hyundai Europe.
“Hyundai Motor deeply and sincerely apologizes for the offensive viral ad.
The ad was created by an affiliate advertising agency, Innocean Europe, without Hyundai’s request or approval. It runs counter to our values as a company and as members of the community. We are very sorry for any offense or distress the video caused.
More to the point, Hyundai apologizes to those who have been personally impacted by tragedy.”
I have an email out to Hyundai Europe and to Innocean with questions. I will update when I have more.
Hyundai Europe provided the following response:
Dear Bob,in response to your note I like to provide you the following statement -“Hyundai Motor deeply and sincerely apologizes for the offensive ad depicting a suicide attempt in one of our vehicles.
The ad was created by an affiliate advertising agency, Innocean Europe, without Hyundai’s request or approval. Nevertheless, it runs counter to our values as a company and as members of the community. We are very sorry for any offense or distress the video caused.More to the point, Hyundai apologizes to those who have been personally impacted by tragedy”
I hope this helps and you will understand we are not commenting beyond this. Thank you.RegardsAndreas
Dear Bob Ledrew,
In regards to the recent film “Pipe Job” which has caused controversy in the media recently, firstly we write to confirm that the film was produced by INNOCEAN Worldwide Europe GmbH without the approval of our Client, Hyundai Motor Company.
The film was designed to creatively dramatize the technical strength of the vehicle featured and posted just in Youtube of INNOCEAN Europe. Clearly we misjudged consumer sentiment and INNOCEAN Worldwide Europe has already issued a formal statement of apology.
INNOCEAN Worldwide deeply apologizes for this incident and would like to express our sincere apology to everyone for any distress caused.
we will endeavor to learn from this unfortunate incident and will continue to work with added vigor to become the Company that better understands consumers, human and worldwide.
PR Team / INNOCEAN Worldwide Global HQ
I’m responding with further questions.
I’m a major lover of whisky. In fact, for part of this weekend, I was rhapsodizing about the interesting whisky selection at a new LCBO store in my neighbourhood to all and sundry.
However, as a PR guy, this news release from giant whisky brand Johnnie Walker put me in need of a drink.
“JOHNNIE WALKER® LAUNCHES BOLD NEW ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN
by Pat Roberts
‘Where Flavour Is King’ showcases products’ credentials rooted in the big, bold flavours of Johnnie Walker whisky
Johnnie Walker, the world’s number one Blended Scotch Whisky, is this week launching a new global advertising campaign. Entitled ‘Where Flavour Is King’, the campaign focuses on the array of rich and intense flavours that are found in each blend of Johnnie Walker whisky.
From its origins in 1820, the Johnnie Walker label has always been committed to its quest to blend whiskies of exceptional flavour, refusing to compromise on quality. This dedicated attitude to finding exotic and exciting tastes takes the product on a special journey of distillation, maturation and blending, to produce the ultimate, unrivalled blend. The flavours, derived solely from the simplest ingredients of barley, water and peat, are mythically transformed through distillation and years of maturation in charred wood casks before being unleashed through the craft of the master blender.”
You can’t be serious. I don’t give a *@#%@# that you are doing a new advertising campaign.
Make good booze. Tell me about that. This is a far cry from the amazing short film that JW did a few years ago with the wonderful Robert Carlyle:
Now THAT makes me REALLY want a whisky.
One of the classic quotes from the world of business is attributed to John Wanamaker:
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
I’m guessing this is a familiar refrain for many business owners. It’s easy to spend money on advertising, whether it’s in the community paper, the local daily, radio, or online. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a gauge that you could use to measure the effectiveness of that advertising?
But before I give you a few tips, a couple of theoretical points to address. First, it can take multiple exposures to a message before people will act on it — or even notice it. This is called, in the business, “effective frequency.” So don’t think that you can simply run an ad, and based on that one exposure, people will flock to your business.
Second, advertising plays a different role for businesses at different stages of their lives. Al Ries, a renowned brand strategist, characterizes it this way: “PR creates brands; advertising defends brands.” So if you’re a new business, you might be focusing your efforts more on the PR side. If you’re an established, mature business, advertising may be taking a more prominent role.
So once you have a strategy in place and understand the role advertising plays in it… how can you tell if you’re wasting your money? There are some simple things you can do:
- Track online. QR (Quick Response) codes are those square barcodes you see on ads, posters, and the like. If you use QR codes in your advertising, you can track how many times those codes are scanned. Even if you don’t use the QR codes, utilities like bit.ly offer similar abilities to track clicks (By the way, bit.ly will generate QR codes that you can use too). And plan out what your call to action will be. Don’t just send people to your website — create a specific page to point them to. Then you will know by traffic if your message is getting through.
- A/B testing is your friend. This may sound a bit intimidating. But the concept is simple. Don’t just run one ad. Run two, with a variation in imagery, copy, and the like. Then use the tracking tools mentioned in tip 1 to look at which one is performing better. The easiest place to do this is online, using platforms like Facebook Adverts or Google Adwords, but you can do similar things with other forms of media, like print or direct mail. And it’s particularly important to do this when using Facebook ads, which according to online marketing smart guy Brian Carter, “burn out” far more quickly than other forms of advertising.
- USE YOUR KNOWLEDGE. All of this stuff is only cool if you use it. Tracking the impact of your ads, measuring A/B results — you need to dedicate the time necessary to understand what the numbers are telling you.
There are as many different social media tools out there as you can imagine. If you don’t believe me, check out the “conversation prism” that Brian Solis created:
Confused yet? Good. That’s what keeps people like me in business!
When you’re engaging with your audiences using one or more of these tools, one thing to keep in mind is the timeframe for your message. I was reminded of this recently when I was listening to a podcast (WTF with Marc Maron, if you must know). The podcast was great, but there was a sponsor who was pushing a Christmas special. (I’m writing this in June).
Different social media have different shelf lives. Twitter is (arguably) ephemeral. It’s here, then it’s gone. Facebook pages, less so. Blogs, semi-permanent. Things like podcasts live on forever; despite the fact that my Stephen King podcast is currently on hiatus, I still see thousands of downloads each month.
So when you’re working out strategies for social media, keep in mind that each tool will have its own sense of time. Why advertise for Mother’s Day when people will still be hitting that note in November? Key your messages to take into account the shelf life of the medium.
(This is post number seven in an ongoing series of posts aimed at providing practical advice for small businesspeople in the areas of public relations, communications and social media. If you ever need help with your small business… why not get in touch?)
(PS: Sorry for the late post; I should have pre-written for the Friday, but I didn’t, and I was driving to Boston yesterday. With a quick stop here.)
The Consumerist is one of my must-read blogs. But I don’t necessarily read it for solid marketing and communications advice. Until this morning, when I opened up my feed reader and found a post called “The Silly Hat Shop.”
It reminded me of a cool furniture store in my neighbourhood in Ottawa. They sell the sort of furniture that funky condos would have, as well as custom design services for furniture.
On their door, they trumpet that they’re on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. What’s that mean? For Twitter, they’ve posted 76 tweets in two years, with less than 50 followers. Most of those tweets are for sales on their products. On Facebook, a page with 133 friends and an unending series of sales. And on LinkedIn? Well, they have some employees there.
What does their online presence say to me? I’m NEVER buying full price from them, and they aren’t that different from a Leon’s, a “The Brick”, or other furniture stores. In short, Ben Popken needed a hat and bought one at a new hat store. They then subjected him to a variety of marketing and loyalty techniques that, in his opinion and mine, don’t fit a hat shop. A frequent buyer card? Really?
I’d also wager that neither the hat shop nor the furniture store have put a second of thought into how they are going to evaluate the success of their frequent buyer club or their Twitter account.
Being a great buyer / retailer of hats, of furniture, of whatever, does not make you a great communicator of what you’re REALLY all about. If you sell great funky furniture that deserves premium treatment — and prices — why not treat it that way? And act as if you’re a trusted advisor rather than a salesman? If you sell hats, don’t treat them like they’re a cappuccino.
And if you can’t think this through because you’re too close to your store, too much in love with what you do — hire someone with a clear vision and trust their insights to do it for you.
(Photo CC licenced from Flickr user Slimmer_Jimmer)