#Burberry’s Global Christmas Campaign is Beautiful, But Needs Some Refinement

Burberry has just launched their first global Christmas campaign. The campaign launched with a four-minute spot featuring Romeo Beckham, yes, the son of David and Victoria. Additionally, it features a new audio track from Ed Harcourt which will be released in December. As far as we know so far, since this is just the launch of the campaign, “the campaign will include outdoor, cinema, and social media advertising to generate interest in Burberry.”

Now, you assumed that Burberry typically does Christmas campaigns and they do, but what is different is this one is global. Yes, that was a bit redundant for me to say, however, coming from my experience working on global accounts, I want to talk about how global campaigns are somewhat difficult to undertake. Firstly, when creating global campaigns, relevancy in all markets (or a select few primary focus markets) is essential. Music choice, voice-overs, time and more importantly message is important as well. Global campaigns are extremely complex, expensive, highly criticized and difficult to produce.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojBufhpPgMo]

It’s not my place to tell Burberry what to do with their first global campaign, nor is it my place to assume what their global objectives are. However, what I can do is review the creative from the lens of my experience on global accounts and my experience working in advertising.

Burberry Christmas

It’s beautiful, but needs some refinement.

  • The Idea: Let’s start with what I assume the idea is, “Christmas is the time for love and giving.” Christmas is also the time for the enjoyment of idealism and merriment which can be transcribed into song and dance. Christmas is tough, it’s tough to differentiate yourself within the Christmas season, especially if you are a clothing retailer. The campaign does feel a bit scripted and predictable, however, the song and dance is a nuance that not all brands can leverage or, furthermore, own.
  • Music: The new track by Ed Harcourt is brilliant. It captures the essence of the Christmas season and the feeling of idealism and love. However, it doesn’t feel as though it “fits” with visuals. There are some relevant cuts and timing with the dance and the storyline, but all in all, the track feels a bit forced to be a part of the story. At times, the music with the spot feels as though they are two disparate pieces of creative jammed together; less of a solution and more like a suspension. Additionally, I’m not sure why the track is not available until December. It would make sense to release the track at the same time of the campaign launch.
  • Choreography: “Burberry used 50 dancers who perform a dance inspired by classic musical films in front of theatrical London street background.” The choreography is beautifully done and expertly timed. Along with stubble cinematic undertones and perfectly timed cuts and pans (timed according to the dance, not the music), it almost appears that it’s out of a Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly film, or better yet, an early 20th Century stage performance.
  • Art Direction: First off, Burberry did not disappoint with the art direction. They have always been at the top of their game when it comes to finely crafted spots, beautiful tones and color, and the perfect balance of product and lifestyle. This spot almost feels as though it’s a print ad, Burberry print ad come to life. The look and feel of Christmas does come out, however subtly. Christmas is a magical time of celebration and merriment, regardless of which religion you are apart of. The snow showers and the dancing in the snow whilst wearing Burberry coats and scarves perfectly encapsulates Christmas from a Burberry point of view. All in all, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the art direction in this film.
  • Four Minutes: I’ve experienced this time and time again, the four-minute “film” on YouTube. I understand that this is more of a music video, more of a campaign launch film than a TVC. However, as marketers, we do have to understand the consumer and determine whether or not one has the time to sit through at four minute film on YouTube. According to Google, after the first 15 seconds of every video on YouTube, that’s when viewers are most likely to drop off. That being said, there’s something to be said about crafting great pieces of art and content. Just as much as we talk about viewership, we also need to keep in mind the types of devices consumers use to watch YouTube videos; there are certain markets in the world where consumers are more likely to watch YouTube on a mobile device than on a laptop. So, who actually watches four minutes on a mobile device when walking around? In the end, let’s keep time in mind when creating spots.
  • Celebrity Casting: Don’t even get me started about celebrity casting. Yes, I see the buzz value in casting a celebrity for a campaign and leveraging their influence to generate buzz and excitement. However, as we have seen in multiple examples including Honda’s latest “Type R” campaign, it’s not entirely necessary. I believe the Burberry Christmas campaign would have the same influence whether or not they casted Romeo Beckham; especially since I just found out he existed. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a cute kid and a “cute kid” works for this execution; just not sure if it was necessary to cast Romeo.
  • Global Relevancy: This is a big one! Now, we haven’t seen a lot of the secondary executions to the spot just yet. They do have some images being leveraged on their Instagram account, but global relevancy is more than just platform activations; especially for a Christmas spot. The subtitle to the campaign is “From London with Love” and that’s all well and good, but London is not the globe; it is a global city, but not necessarily global. How would a market, let’s say, Brazil react to a spot like this? (Especially since during Christmas it’s Summer in Rio). Additionally, we need to look at ethnicity too. This spot is very heavy up on caucasians and doesn’t address the complexity of a diverse set of ethnicities in the world. The campaign is scalable, but not necessarily regionally relevant.

 

Burberry Romeo Beckham

Overall, it is a great spot, but it is lacking alignment with audio and visual; it really needs some refinement. Perhaps, the fix would be as easy as choose a different audio track to complement astounding visuals? It will be very interesting to see how Burberry runs with this idea in their longer-form campaign. Will there be further owned nuances to the idealism? Will there be more song and dance? Will they focus on giving rather than buying? One thing I do know, Burberry are excellent marketers and I can’t wait to see how they make this a case study that we all will use in the coming year.

The “Value” of Super Bowl Advertisements

Even though Super Bowls can be a bit of a let down, advertisers and brands swarm to get spots for the Super Bowl. Case in point, all of the Super Bowl ad spots were sold out before Thanksgiving this year. This is mainly due to brands wanting to get in front of one of the largest audiences to view television programs. It is predicted this year there will be 100 million people watching the Super Bowl; and at a price tag of $3.5 million dollars for a 30 second spot, it may seem like a deal. However, I’m not sure that the brands truly recognize the value of the spots or the return they may, or may not get from them.

>> Read more at Experience Matters…

A Critique of Chrysler’s “Imported From Detroit” Branding

This year, Chrysler stunned the advertising and consumer world with their “Imported from Detroit” rebrand. This rebrand effort was launched during the Super Bowl with the famous commercial featuring Eminem and his music. I will not lie, I was stunned at the excellent delivery of emotion from the folks at Chrysler and I had great hopes that this commercial would be the precursor to a rebirth of branding and advertising not just in the auto industry, but in the ad industry as well. Sadly though, my hopes were a little too high. Chrysler partnering with Wieden Kennedy, created an amazing foundation for a brand rebirth, but failed and continues to fail in execution and evolution of that rebrand.

[youtube=”http://youtu.be/SKL254Y_jtc”]

There not doubt that the promotion of Saad Chehab to CEO of Chrysler and Lancia brands was a result of the Wieden Kennedy’s work with Chrysler. Chehab delivered on a promise to Detroit, to give hope, inspiration and sense of fight back into the people who have endured so much. Chehab said that he wanted to “capture the story of a downtrodden city with a glorious history that still had so much to offer.” That’s true; he with W+K helped bring that story to light. However, what has happened, and I am sure most people in Detroit are keenly aware of, the delivery of that story and offering is quickly dwindling if not completely gone.

This is Motor City, and This is What We Do
Eminem’s epic moment in the brand’s feature commercial was, not doubt spectacular, especially with the line “this is motor city and this is what we do.” Moreover was the introduction ahead of Eminem’s appearance, was much more powerful. The quick cuts of the real Detroit; the cold, the strength, the people and the faith the city has. The commercial told a story of those who have fought long and hard. Those people who have worked, those people who have never given up hope. The commercial followed the rules of emotional branding to their finer details. “The hottest fires forge the toughest steel.” Hope and ambition, strength and character, America and its people were the messages being drilled into our hearts. We did not weep when watching this commercial, rather we watched with open eyes and mouths while not breathing a single breath. We knew, just like those in Detroit, that this commercial, this message, meant something. It touched us in a way we haven’t felt in a long while. And there it was, emotion being applied to the brand. It was as if Chrysler never left us and never will. It was here to stay and lift us up from the dark.

That was the point of it all; hope and inspiration. Chrysler created something that we all believed in and we attached ourselves. If you notice, the car was in the commercial for all of 15 seconds. It wasn’t about the car, never should have been. It was about the people making it and the people around it.

And that’s the last we saw of that messaging.

Introduction of New Cities
I don’t know if it is easier to shoot in New York and LA, but that’s where the latest Chrysler commercials filmed from. I agree, that a brand needs to evolve and needs to seek out new landscapes, however, New York and LA are not related to Detroit even in the slightest. This rebrand was about blue-collar, the American struggle. New York and LA do not provide that persona at all. Nor is “Imported from Detroit” about fashion or hip-hop. The introduction of fashion designer John Varvatos in New York and Dr. Dre in LA do not align to the emotion already set.

Yes, Varvatos is from Detroit, but fashion is not and Dr. Dre is from LA. These are complete disconnects from the brand or what the brand is supposed to be about; or from what we gathered the brand is about. I know that Dr. Dre’s Beats Audio are integrated into some vehicles, but what about having those commercials shot in Detroit or city similar? What I don’t get is the fashion angle. How does fashion or a fashion designer relate to this campaign at all?

Eminem came from and will never leave Detroit. He has blue-collar in his blood. In fact, word on the street is that Chrysler and W+K had to prove that the campaign was going to reflect and promote Detroit and that Chrysler will never leave it. Well, fast forward 5 months and Chrysler left Detroit to shoot in LA and New York.

In my opinion, if you want to maintain that level of emotion around a city and its people, especially those who are hard working, determined and full of character, don’t leave that city. Make Detroit the epicenter of the rebrand. Align Detroit to Chrysler; align the people to the image. If you have to, move to a city much like Detroit such as Cleveland, Milwaukee, Pittsburg or St. Louis. It is very apparent that Chrysler, along with W+K have lost sight of the emotion they had originally created.

The Branding Dispute
Pure Detroit began selling apparel and other items with the “Imported from Detroit” slogan on them. Chrysler quickly came down on them with a cease-and-desist order and began to sue them. Yes, large brands know how to keep hold on their brand and enjoy controlling it and maintaining the image. Where Chrysler made the mistake was this case specifically. Given the fact that the rebrand was about Detroit’s people and the American people, the rebrand should have been allowed to evolve and be owned by the people. I’m all for brand equity and promote it with my clients. However, this case is different. The people of Detroit evangelized the brand after one, one commercial! This is unreal. This is free advertising, this is free advocacy and free recognition. Chrysler as a brand doesn’t have to do anything to move the brand forward, yet, they came down hard on the “working man” or the Detroit they have come to realize was always there waiting to be understood.

In this case, allow the merchants to create your brand for you. Allow the consumers to respond with faith in your brand and become inspired by the work they do to create the cars that you are selling.

Branding and Art Direction
The rebrand’s art direction is the brass tacks of what I’m concerned about. Coming from an Art Director background, watching this campaign unfold makes me cringe. The inaugural commercial had “feeling” belonging only to itself. When W+K or the other agencies working with Chrysler started rolling out traditional media, follow up commercials and microsites, the image and the emotion quickly fell apart.

If a large brand like Chrysler wants to rollout a campaign like this, it is required to have a cohesive image and message across all channels and outlets. You see below that the commercials do not have the same art direction as the traditional pieces. The websites do not live up to the image in the commercial as the sites are all about product and not image and emotion.

What I do have are stills from videos from the auto shows at the booths after the commercial aired. They are emotional, endearing, historic, and they tell a story of where we have been and where we are going – all without products. I want to sit in a Chrysler after seeing these images.

[slideshow]

Here’s a solution, take visual cues from the commercials that made you great. Speak, through images and content about the story, about the emotion, about the city, and about life. Let the consumers make a connection with your story, then with your product.

What This Campaign Should Have Been About
In summary, this campaign should have been about hope, reality, inspiration, fight and pride. It should have been about the people and the feelings. Chrysler and W+K have failed at aligning meaning behind the rest of their approach to the brand that they started back in early 2011. Align back to Detroit, speak to the people that make that city great and this country great. Speak to sacrifice, hard work and determination. Speak to THEM and stop bringing us that which we cannot relate to. Do not leave Detroit, do not ignore the “blue-collar” worker and do not leave us like the brands before you.

Want to know what I’m talking about? Watch what Levi’s is doing.

Recap: #SocialEvents Twitter Chat – Move Beyond the Check-In

Last week, in an effort to increase awareness around Critical Mass’ SxSW submissions, we hosted five days of Twitter chats. Each Critical Mass entry had its own chat. It was a great experience interacting with some top minds, sharing ideas and taking a critical look at the digital and social landscape from different perspectives – all on Twitter.

Just to recap, my SxSW entry is about making events more social and more engaging for the participants, in real-time and long after the event is over. (Don’t forget to vote!)

From the Move Beyond the Check-In: Making Events Truly Social Twitter chat, there were some interesting themes that came up.

  • Privacy is still a major concern with location-based services. Especially when it comes to integrating LBS into existing social networks.
  • Check-in and consumer loyalty are not always synonymous.
  • Incentives are still top-of-mind with consumers and marketers as a method to engage consumers.
  • Layered incentives or achievements can motivate consumer retention.
  • Gamification is another method still being considered or employed for consumer retention.
  • Marketers sometimes find it difficult to move beyond the incentive and game when engaging audiences at events.
  • Engagement at events with the event itself or crowd, could be a viable next step after incentives; curating real-time relationships.

So, to grow this conversation even further, how can we as marketers, move beyond the incentive and using technology, engage the consumer at events with real-time value and long term experiences?

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Twitter chat with me and Critical Mass! You all were great, highly engaged and provided incredible insights into event-based marketing! Below (after the fold) is the Twitter chat, formatted for your reference.

Please don’t forget to vote (Friday, September 2nd) is the last day to vote!

Continue reading “Recap: #SocialEvents Twitter Chat – Move Beyond the Check-In”

Include Social Media in your Brand Strategy

Branding your company is a big, arduous task. It’s not just a logo, it’s not your business cards, letterheads and advertising. What a lot of people and companies don’t understand about branding, is that your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what the consumers believe it is. It’s what the consumer feels about your brand. How do you communicate with your consumers to understand what they’re thinking, and how do to align their beliefs with your own brand strategy? Enter social media.

The term social media gets thrown about a lot, and social media strategy equally so. However, where does a social media strategy actually fit within your brand strategy? How do you leverage social media channels to effectively communicate with your consumers and how do you use social media to affect change within your brand strategy?

For starters, social media is a tool to reinforce your marketing communications pillar. It is not a separate entity; social media should enhance your marketing objectives and then your business strategy. Your business strategy aligns with the perception of your brand. This process is ever changing only because your consumers’ opinions are ever changing. What social can bring to the table is immediate, effective understanding and communications with your consumer base. Social is where you will find the most up-to-date brand opinion. This is important, vastly important to your brand, because you can decipher what your consumer believes, understand their concerns and with quick process, adjust the marketing communications to align your brand communications with the consumer’s perception.

Large words, I know. What is important to know is, consumer brand perception can and will change faster than marketing or brand channels can keep up with. Social offers a unique point of view of what’s happening in the eyes of the consumer and allows for rapid modification to marketing communications.

Picture this: Your brand launches a new product to market. This product is supposed to change the way people look at your brand. It’s meant to instill faith in your brand and some sort of positive, hopeful emotion. Now, let’s say there is a backlash against the product. Your product is either too expensive, insulting or just downright lame. Your consumers have an obvious opinion about this. Where do they go? They go where they spend the most of their time, Facebook and Twitter. Their opinion about your product is posted online, for their network, the network’s network, and the world to see. And with 90% of consumers trusting recommendations from people they know*, more consumers gravitate to the opinion and now you have a mess on your hands.

You have a Facebook fan page. The consumers post their discontent on your fan page’s wall. What do you do? Delete them? No! You respond respectfully and send the consumers’ opinions up the ladder to the marketing communications department. The marcom department, after dealing with problem at hand, should send it up to the business strategy arm. If you don’t have a business strategy arm, you should. Immediately, decisions should be made as to what to do with the information. It’s not a matter of how to stop this consumer belief from impacting your brand, because it IS your brand now. The matter is, how do you change it. Brand perception is no longer a top-down activity, it’s a bottom-up enterprise and social is your inroad to the perception. What you do, what you say, how your brand reacts on social will have an immediate effect, positive or negative to your brand. This process requires a new model of communication similar to that, which was introduced in the book, “The Brand Gap” by Marty Neumeier.

New Messaging Platform

*From “The Brand Gap,” Marty Neumeier

One item of note, the brand and social “strategy” are not solid, concrete action plans. Think of them as an organic, living system that’s ever changing. People’s beliefs change and your brand will have to evolve along with.

Your social communication should have a clear, precise path to the decision makers in your company. If your decision makers can’t hear what your consumers are saying about your brand, then you have lost what little control over brand perception you had. Your consumers are speaking about your brand through your social channels to, what they perceive as, people who can change things. Why not send that message fast and direct? The longer you avoid a clear, established, path from social media to the brand decision makers, the longer it will take to recover, redefine, or reinforce your brand perception and ultimately, your bottom line.

*Econsultancy, July 2009

My Inspiration Lately, Prose Supersedes Imagery

Lately, I’ve been increasingly inspired by writings much more so than imagery. This is peculiar to me as I’m normally a very visual person. Anyway, I wanted to share some prose that has inspired me in the last week. These works have, for some reason or another, really struck a “chord” inside.

    Me I’m just a waitress she said.
    I went and bought a new head she said.
    I look at you and I believe in you she said.
    Screaming into the eye of the lens.

*Karl Hyde, Rick Smith

    Remember when I caught your eye?
    You gave me rainbows and butterflies.
    We did enjoy a happiness.
    When our love was over, I was such a mess.

    I smiled at you and you smiled back.
    That’s when I knew, there’s no turning back.

    You said you loved me and I did too.
    Now though it’s over, I still love you.

    You’re in my mind, you’re in my heart.
    I wish I knew right from the start.
    All my friends said you’d break my heart.
    A heartbreaker right from the start.

    I tried to fight it, I tried so hard.
    And everyday, I prayed to God.
    That you and me, were meant to be
    But you had another, you had a lover.

    And now it’s dark, I don’t know why.
    I feel like crying, just want to die.
    I can’t look at you and you know why.
    Though I tried so hard, to catch your eye.

*Jesse F. Keeler, Alex Puodziukas, John Legend

Recap: The Chicago Auto Show

Saturday, I had the opportunity to check out the 2011 Chicago Auto Show with my brother Eric. Now, I for one absolutely love auto shows. Perhaps I love them because I grew up liking automobiles, maybe it’s because I’m a guy and guys “like that sort of thing,” or maybe it’s because auto shows are just plain cool. Regardless, auto shows are fun and this year’s show illustrated how integrated our culture is becoming with technology and communications. I noticed two activities the auto manufacturers were investing in, they were social media interaction and interactive, on-site engagement.

Social
Social was a very large component in the majority of the large auto manufacturers’ displays. Here is a rundown of how some the auto companies engaged socially.

• Volkswagon: Upon arrival to the Auto Show, I checked into the Chicago Auto Show via Foursquare. Very soon after, I received a tweet from @VWConnect stating, “Stop by the VW booth to see the all-new Jetta GLI & find out how to get a free T-shirt,” with a TwitPic of a VW GLI. Yes, it was a bot Twitter account, but it served its purpose. I was immediately intrigued by what they had going on and that they were engaging me based upon my location. I headed over to the VW booth to find out more.

I came up to the new model year Passat and noticed it had a CTA image on the vehicle. The image directed me to take a listen to the stereo, tweet about it, and find a Product Specialist. Well, I bypassed those directions and went to the Product Specialist. She was there with T-Shirts in hand, standing right next to the vehicle. She informed me that had I tweeted about the vehicle, she would have taken down some information (for direct mail purposes) and given me a VW t-shirt to take home.

    Pros: VW was highly engaged both online and off. The incentive was adequate for the promotional needs. It was a great way of directing online, to a socially engaged, real-life specialist.
    Cons: Twitter bots are sometimes overwhelming and people don’t respond to them that well. Taking down my information after I did all those steps for VW, was a big of a large ask.

• Audi: Audi used location based services to generate awareness and engagement. Audi featured a couple of signs that directed the public to check into the Audi booth via both Foursquare and Facebook Places. As far as I could tell, there wasn’t much of an incentive to do so. However, I have to say this: I didn’t check in. So, with that said, who knows what was on the other side of the check-in. Either way, it wasn’t mentioned on the signage what would happen if you did check in.

    Pros: Promoting the use of location based services through signage.
    Cons: No real or clear incentive to check-in to the services.

• Chrysler: Chrysler had a simple black-and-white flyer they handed out to attendees of the show. One side featured all of their social accounts with a CTA that asked the attendees to become a fan of their pages and upload images, video and editorial from their experience at the show.

The second side was a CTA to engage the brand through text messaging. Text “Chrysler” to a number, explore the booths, answer questions that were texted back, and get a reward at the information desk. The rewards varied from an eco-friendly bag to a 3-for-1 oil change. A good use of texting, however, it seemed to be a bit of an arduous task.

    Pros: Using texting instead of social to interact with the attendees was different from most OEMs. The 3-for-1 oil change reward was pretty good.
    Cons: Attendees have to pay for the texts. Who knows when else Chrylser will text the attendees. And the photocopied flyers were a very passive approach to social media.

• Chevrolet: Chevrolet had a “bullet-time” photo booth in conjunction with Hot Wheels. Attendees waited in line to get their photo taken in front a Chevy vehicle, were offered a physical copy of the photography, and had the option to post that photo on Facebook or other social media platform.

I didn’t participate in this one; the line was way too long. However, I can only assume Chevy got a great turn out, a lot of social information on attendees, and the offer for participation was pretty innovative. I mean really, where else can you get a photo of yourself in bullet time?

    Pros: Innovate and interactive booth with a social component on the backend.
    Cons: Very long line to wait.

• AutoTrader: AutoTrader, much like VW, had a Twitter bot engage the attendees after an Auto Show Foursquare check-in. Their tweet read, “Thanks for joining us at the Chicago Auto Show! Fly by AutoTrader.com’s booth with this tweet for a prize” offered a clear call to action with a plus up incentive. If it was anything like the LA Auto Show, you get a picture with someone you’ve never heard of, a pencil and a small carrying case. I admit, I didn’t try this one either; I already have a pencil.

    Pros: A quick social response with an incentive back end.
    Cons: Again, a Twitter bot engagement tactic. However, with that said, how else would we know to go over to the booth?

Interactive
The second major piece of the Chicago Auto Show were interactive displays. The auto manufacturers really stepped up their game this year. Let me quickly go through some of the more memorable displays.

Overall: QR Codes were in heavy use with every sort of CTA ranging from vehicle information, to connecting on Facebook, to engaging dealerships. It seems as though QR codes are becoming more prevalent in the industry and used more by the public.

Honda: Honda had an “X-Ray” like display. Basically, there was an image on a wall of a Honda minivan. There was a screen on rails affixed above the image. The attendee would move the screen back and forth over the image to give a detailed, x-ray like, look at the vehicle. The display didn’t work all that well, but the public didn’t seem to mind as they enjoyed just playing around with it.

Fiat: Fiat used an X-Box Kinect interface. An attendee would stand behind the kiosk, waive their hands and interact with a large television screen filled with images and information. The attendee would select one of the images, an informative piece, or video would display and the attendee selected another one. This display had a very high level of interaction and a clear description on how to use it. However, the screen was pretty distant and made it difficult to read the information.

Scion: Scion used 3D video to engage the attendees. The Product Specialists gave out the glasses and all you had to do, as an attendee, was sit down and watch a 3D Scion movie. It was pretty simple, however, offered little interaction.

Chevrolet Volt: The booth for the Volt alone, was larger than some of the other auto manufacturer’s booths overall. The Volt offered a serene test track that allowed the attendees to ride in the car through a beautifully landscaped roadway. Once you walk up to the track, you are inundated with the smell of fresh plants, trees and grass. The attendee didn’t get to drive the Volt around the track, which was about the size of a large go-kart track, they were chauffeured. The line to get in the Volt wrapped around the track. It was a site to see and a calming booth to visit with all the foliage.

Toyota: Toyota’s Prius display was pretty large, bright, and spoke to the “Prius Goes Plural” campaign. At the base of the booth, was a station to charge your mobile phone. Toyota offered, from what it seemed, every type of mobile phone chargers. I think Toyota understood perfectly what type of world we live in right now. Also, when the attendee charged their phones, a Product Specialist would sit with them to chat. I’m not one to be suckered into this sort of conversation, but when you need your phone charged, you will do just about anything.

So, that was just a part of my experience at the auto show. I truly do enjoy auto shows; the designs of the cars, the booth displays, and the unique approaches auto manufacturers use to get our attention. However, one major downside to the show was the shear amount of people in attendance. I think the flow of the show needs to be reevaluated from a perspective of the volume of people. That was just about the only downside, and looking at it from a marketing perspective, it’s certainly an upside.

Shout Out: Thank you Lindsay for the tickets!

A Shift in Culture

I remember writing something on Twitter a few weeks ago regarding the idea that people no longer to go coffee shops for coffee, as we did in the last decade or even the one before, but to go now for WIFI. This statement has made me wonder, what is different now from years before? How has our culture evolved? How has our day-to-day lives changed?

One example would be how we search for things. Remember back in the day when we would have to use the Yellow Pages to find business or people? Or even more recently when we would use search engines through the computer? No longer do we have to open a book or even turn our computer on, we can search in the palm of our hands with portable devices. Various applications allow us on our phones, to find what we are looking for almost immediately. I mean, even the mere idea of having applications on a phone is a relatively new concept. Ten years ago, I had a phone that could only send/receive calls and, what was at the time something new, text messages. We use our phones not to call anymore, but as a mobile computer.

Speaking of mobile computers, we are now in a time when you no longer have to wait to get to the office or go home, we simply pull our computer out of our bag, hop on to some WIFI and go. I’m not saying that laptops were not around 10 years ago, but they definitely weren’t as prevalent and certainly were not the primary computer that people used. We even use them to give presentations and pitches to clients. Our very nature is now becoming mobile.

Facebook.com

Twitter and Facebook were not the first, by a long shot, social networking platforms around. However, their ability to adapt to the ever-changing online environment, has kept them around. It used to be that we would ask someone for their number, call them or even text them. Now, we “Facebook” them or follow them on Twitter. Even businesses are adopting the social media trend. Promoting themselves through social media sites, advertising their services or products by “tweeting,” and interacting with their demographic in the first person. Social media is changing the way we buy things, learn about things and even meet people. I’ll even go as far as to say that psychologically, we believe that the online presence of a person and/or business is actually who they are. We don’t think of their page as a page, but as the person themselves.

And while we’re on the topic of online environments, who goes to a record store anymore? Do you know of any around still? Who uses CD players? It’s all iPods, mobile phones, laptops and streaming. The advent of the digital medium and the unlimited access to any song anywhere on the web has changed the way we buy and listen to music. I’m even thinking of ripping all my old CD’s to MP3 and selling them off.

So, what’s next? What are we as a culture going to shift to? We already see it happening. Augmented Reality is creeping into our culture slowly, but surely. Google has released a statement saying they’re going to customize billboard advertisements in their Street Map application and change the way we advertise. Ford is unveiling a car with applications on the dash. We have a vague idea of what is around the corner, however, all that we can really plan for is that we don’t know how society is going to change, but it is an exciting time to be alive.

Where do you see us heading next?

Smart People

Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in a large branding workshop. I have to say, it was a truly amazing experience. What made it amazing? It wasn’t really the workshop itself, it was the people that took part in it. It was the people who surrounded me.

These “people” were smart people, very smart people. It was a refreshing experience and, at the same time, a humbling one. I’m not saying that I haven’t been in rooms with smart people before, I have. What I am saying is, I haven’t been in a room with this MANY smart people before. I really am not at liberty to disclose what was actually said, or what the brand workshop was focused on. I can disclose, however, the experiences that I took away.

I am a young man when it comes to the professional world. I know, I am nearly 30 years old and some people consider that old, but in the grand scheme of things, that is very young. I understand that I have a lot to learn and I very much welcome that challenge and this workshop provided that challenge. I was in a room with the playmakers and the decision makers for the majority of a day. We all sat down and pondered the why, the what, the how and what the next steps were in branding. The “where we are,” to the “where we should be.” We had brand planners, designers, marketers, copywriters, web designers. We had executives and creatives. We had all the people that contribute to the brand in one room. And more importantly, we all were listening.

It wasn’t a matter that no idea was a bad idea, it was a matter that all the ideas were heard and discussed. That is the true meaning of collaboration, every idea gets heard and its time in the light. These ideas came from very, very smart people. Those who not only know what a good idea is, but know why it’s a good idea because they’ve been there. The smart people know when to listen and when to speak. They know the results because they’ve been there. They aren’t just the playmakers, they are makers of the game.

When I say I was humbled, I truly was. I’ve been in rooms with smart people before, really smart people. But this wasn’t college football, this was the NFL. I had to bring my “A” game at be “on” all the time. There was no room for error in this hall. Now, when I say smart people, I don’t mean people who were smarter than people that I have met, I mean people who are smarter than me. These types of professionals bring the best out of you, if you are open to it. Being immersed in “A” game thinking, elevates your creative thinking and the logical side of your brain at the same time. This is the type of experience that I long for. I may come out the room with an understanding that I don’t know a whole lot or at least, as much as they do. However, it makes me strive for more. More knowledge, more experiences, and more talent.

What did I takeaway from this experience? I learned that there is a process to these types of idea-sessions. Here’s the breakdown:

Listen
Someone once said that you never learn anything by talking. Listening is probably the best activity to master. No multitasking is allowed, close your computers and turn off your phones. Listen, take notes, assimilate the information heading your way. There is a reason why someone is speaking, because they have something to say. You can learn from people. They can assist you in thinking in a different box. They can spark ideas in your head.

Engage
When I say it was a humbling experience, it was. I was a little nervous in engaging with some people and having my ideas heard. But what I realized was, that I was there for a reason. Nothing comes out of passivity. If you feel that something needs to be said, say it. Offer up a critique of someone’s idea. Engage, question, articulate, and argue. Discourse and dialog bring about amazing ideas and change. They also allow us to explore other ideas and take ourselves down different creative paths. Also, meet new people. Introduce yourself. After people meet you, they become more open to the idea of discussing ideas with you.

Takeaway
Always come out of the room with an idea or something to move yourself forward. I came out of that room with a ton of ideas that I want to move forward. I came out of that room with many new contacts and connections. I also came out knowing that I need to know more than what I know now. I decided to buy some books, catch up on reading. If you come out without any sort of takeaway, you’ve wasted your time and sadly, theirs too.

Learn
This aligns with “Listen” and “Takeaways.” Take the information that you’ve listened to and the takeaways and assimilate that. Learn from your counterparts and learn from the ideas that were shared, even the ideas that don’t work. Ask yourself the “why” and if you don’t have an answer, seek it out.

Who did I listen to? I listened to everyone.

Who did I engage with? I tried my best to offer up and idea or opinion to anyone. It was scary from the start, but I rallied.

What takeaways did I leave with? A ton! I need to read up, I need to follow up, I need to take ideas that were solid and implement them.

What did I learn? Try not to be scared to interact with people. All ideas are welcome. I need to learn more. I want more dialog. I have many, many pages of ideas I need to implement.

Brand Follower Expectations Are Changing in Social Media

We have all seen the numbers, seen the stats and have seen how fast social media is taking off. We are trying our best to create audiences, promote product, educate users and become influencers for the brand’s new market. Marketing industry professionals, myself included, are eager to sign clients, create promotion strategy, sort out metrics and compile analytics. To what end?

I’m not saying that we’re blind to what we are doing here, quite the contrary. What I am saying is, even though social media is new, it’s evolving already.

All of us, including the users and brand followers, are creating a revolution in the marketing world. All of us in some capacity, are improving the networks and driving innovation and expectations further. Never before have we seen such immediate communication between the sellers and the buyers. Social media marketing is fairly new to the advertising/marketing/communication world and it’s changing faster than we can assimilate at times.

What sometimes slips through our cracks is the end user’s expectations of the rapid evolution of social media. Brand followers and customers are not stupid. And in all honesty, they never really were, we just treated them like that. That needs to change. The driving force in the next steps of social media marketing will be adapting to the expectations of the brand follower/user/customer.

For a while now, new media marketers have been set to a standard of post, link, editorial, post, link, editorial, and engagement when needed. Where content is king (whatever that means) and the flow of information is the most important asset any company has. Users, from what I have noticed, are starting to expect more out of the brands they follow. They are starting to understand what marketers are doing, which is basically conventional advertising and marketing practices guised as social media.

So, what do I foresee what brand followers will expect out of us in the near future? It’s hard to tell exactly what the evolution will be. However, if you look at the big picture, you start to notice behavioral changes. Here are a few ideas.

    BRAND PERSONALITY OFFICER
    Brand followers were fine, for a while, with brands just pushing information out on them. Followers liked the idea of “liking” their favorite brand and telling their friends about it. However, the brands have become too passive. To speak to a follower, you need to be able to speak TO them, not at them, or wait for them to speak to your brand. Followers will start to expect a “Brand Personality Officer” to interact with while online and one who creates and fulfills the personality of the brand to the followers. The BPO’s mission will be to engage with brand followers utilizing their own personality mixed with that of the mission of the brand. “Speak as if you ARE Brand X.” If the brand doesn’t have anyone to speak with, the user will most likely pull the plug on the “follow.”

    INCENTIVES
    Why do your brand’s followers actually follow you? What is in it for the brand followers other than a link on their Facebook page and a post twice a day? Incentive based social media marketing has already popped up on the grid but, we need to press further. Rewarding the followers of the brand that have taken the time to view your page or feed is the right thing to do and, in all honesty, the followers are wanting, if not expecting it. Service with a smile and a free cup of coffee.

    USER GENERATED CONTENT IS KING
    It once was said that, “Content is King” in the land of social media. Well, that was true about a year ago. But now, as we press forward and engage with our followers, the brand followers want to engage with “their” brand, they are thirsting for it.* Imitation is the best form of flattery. Allowing and promoting brand followers in generating their own content and sharing it with the brand, even if it’s crappy, is a gold mine of promotion.** Think of it, you as a marketer don’t even have to spend anything to promote your brand, they’re doing it for you and they are happy, if not, eager to do it! Give them the avenue and the “incentive” to do so.

    * Brand followers have a belief that their favorite brands are actually “their” brands.
    ** One key thing about User Generated Content, is the “Brand Personality Officer” needs to comment on it, thank and engage the follower for doing so.

These are just some observations and predictions I have as to the future of online marketing to brand followers. What is the common denominator with all of these? The brand follower wants to be engaged by the brand and wants some sense that there is a person behind the curtain they have access to. The brand followers are going to be expecting more out of the brand and us as marketers. We have to be ready to foresee and adapt to their changing expectations.

->> PS: These are merely observations and not based upon any sort of analytic, just in case you were wondering.