Tick Yes Blog

Category - News & Views

Bill, Say it Aint So

Bill Cosby, what were you thinking?
Perhaps in an attempt to contemporise his appeal, the 77 year old comedian launched a ‘meme generator’ on his site this week. All you had to do was select one of several images of Cosby and come up with a funny line that would then hopefully, from his point of view, go viral.
You can imagine some marketing guru convincing Cosby that it’s a great use of social media, that it would attract lots of new, young fans and it would make you look so NOW!
It was a great theory.
There was only one eency weency problem: Cosby has faced allegations of sexual assault from several women for a number of years. And in the Wild West that is the internet, nothing is sanitised and nothing is forgotten.
It didn’t take long for the rude, crude and suggestive memes to start surfacing; as anyone who knows anything about social media knew they would. The meme generator and the memes disappeared from the site in record time and worldwide headlines followed. Not the outcome Mr Cosby was looking for.
All of which validates one of my favourite expressions: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
 
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Telling the Truth and Other Insults

There are some insults you just can’t forget.
Soon after joining an agency some team members levelled criticism at me that still hurts 15+ years later: that I was too honest. Apparently telling the complete truth (is there any other type?) was a career limiting habit in agency land.
Fortunately, my apparent ‘aw shucks’ honesty has not held me back. That’s not to say that my peers were wrong. Perhaps I could have done that much better had I learned to embellish, gild the lily or been less intimate with the truth on occasion. Perhaps, but I don’t think so.
Truth in advertising and marketing remains a contentious subject. Apparently the broader population has mistrust for the people and vehicles that bring them images and messages designed to get them to do things. My biggest bugbear is with the notion that we professional communicators can cajole and fool people into buying things they don’t want or need.
I actually think that the truth is pretty compelling. Our job is to illustrate and illuminate that truth.
Perhaps it’s politically incorrect to say this but if people are so easily duped into doing something that they don’t want to do, more fool them. Marketers and advertisers don’t have some magic dust that lures people into commercial slavery. Of course our job is to highlight the benefits the products and services we’re promoting have to offer you the customer. And then we need to emotionally engage. That’s it. That’s our supposedly insidious strategy exposed.
If you don’t want the rice cooker, don’t buy it. It really is up to you, not me.
 
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Image courtesy: www.americasvoice.com

The Super Marketing Opportunity

Forget Point Piper, Toorak, New Farm and Peppermint Grove. The most expensive real estate in Australia is just down the road from where you live. Per square metre, the humble shelf in your local supermarket is worth infinitely more than any property the so-called ritzy suburbs have to offer.
Why? Supermarkets have done a fabulous job of marketing themselves and being accessible to consumers. Millions walk through the doors of Coles and Woolworths every week to buy tens of millions of products from their shelves. Such is the enormity of their success that general / trade publications, newsletters and websites eagerly report on the supermarkets’ every media release, staff change and initiative.
Then there’s the fact that annual grocery sales in Australia top $100 billion accounting for 29% of overall retail turnover. And to top it off, supermarkets consistently feature in Australia’s top advertising spenders lists. Clearly, supermarkets matter. But why do they have to matter so much? Particularly when it comes to their supply partners struggling to get noticed on their crowded shelves.
In this age of global disintermediation, the grocery business model is one of the few that has not changed for decades. On any day dozens of nervous FMCG account managers head off to Hawthorn East and Bella Vista with their fancy brand presenters and planograms hoping to influence their Coles and Woolworths category buyers. Fail to impress that handful of people and your brand could end up delisted and dead in the water.
All because supermarkets ‘own’ their customers and the grocery brand marketers don’t. This is lunacy. And there’s no greater proof of that, for brand marketers at least, than the relentless growth of the supermarkets’ own premium housebrands. Having driven their suppliers to collectively invest billions of dollars building consumer demand for pasta, soft drinks and breakfast cereal etc. supermarkets are in the process of successfully re-directing that demand to their own brands.
Yes, housebrand/generics have been around for years but traditionally they occupied the cut-price, lower quality end of the market. Brands are now being forced off the shelves by cheaper alternatives of equal or even greater quality that are owned by their supposed retail partners. Clearly, it pays to own the customer. Nielsen predicts that house brands will make up 40% of grocery sales within four years; in the UK, they already make up 50%.  So how can brand marketers halt their shrinking shelf visibility and market share? The solution is so simple and so cost-effective that it’s astounding that grocery marketers are not implementing it en masse.
Put simply, grocery marketers need to leverage digital platforms to turn their consumers into brand zealots with a vision of relegating supermarkets to transactional distribution centres. Now before you dismiss this as a pie in the sky, completely unrealistic idea, consider how many people care what company is selling the tickets when they’re lining up overnight to see Bruce Springsteen, One Direction or the AFL Grand Final? None. Those attractions are so desirable and so invested with their own unique emotional drivers that everything else is just logistics. Bruce Springsteen owns his customers, not Ticketek.
OK, consumers are not likely to spend hours waiting in line to buy your brand of tomato sauce. But if your brand can in some way deliver on your consumers’ interests, needs and desires there’s a good chance that you won’t be lumped in with every sauce brand / housebrand. Create relevance and connection by giving consumers what they want and they will enter your competitions, give you their email address, comment on your Facebook page and watch your YouTube videos. And if you continue to emotionally engage them with interesting, informative and fun content on these and other platforms maybe, just maybe they’ll choose your sauce over the cheaper alternatives.
Consumers default to price when they’re given no other meaningful reason to pay a premium. There are many far cheaper entertainment alternatives to a Bruce Springsteen concert but there’s only one ‘Boss’ so seeing him is worth the premium for his fans. Of course not every consumer will be interested in such an approach. Many will choose the cheapest. But if higher priced brands weren’t relevant there would only be housebrands and generics.

The mistake most FMCG brand marketers are making is that they don’t understand the far-reaching benefits of creating individual consumer relationships as opposed to what they and their agencies are used to: six week ad campaigns. Traditional advertising used to be the glue that built and bound consumer emotions to your brand and drove sales. That’s still true to a degree. But that degree is shrinking in direct proportion to the consumption of traditional media. Are you watching TV, listening to the radio or reading newspapers and magazines more than you were five years ago? You’re not alone.
FMCG brand owners need to have a strategic consumer relationship vision instead of just a tactical promotional plan. You now have the tools to engage and nurture consumers well beyond the next gondola end promotion or two week price cut. Yes, tactics are critical, particularly when you need to deliver results in the next month/quarter. The challenge arises when your brand lurches from one tactical implementation to the next with no longer term consumer engagement strategy. Consumers aren’t stupid; you and your retailers have educated them to buy whatever brand (for those who still buy brands) is on special.
Thanks to digital and social platforms, consumers are more accessible to marketers than ever before. And they are willing to get involved with your brand; they just need good reasons to do so. Then there’s the icing on the cake: you get so much more for your digital marketing dollars than you do with traditional ad budgets. What would barely cover the production of a typical 30 second TVC, could power a highly effective digital customer engagement program for a year. Plus, at the end of that 12 months you could have built up substantial databases and other owned digital assets that you can leverage for years to come. Something traditional brand advertising has never done.
Many tangible commercial returns can be delivered for the FMCG marketers who build direct consumer relationships. The days of allowing others to own your consumers are over. You have the tools, you have the strategies. What you don’t have is a good reason to do nothing about it.
 
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Images Courtesy: www.omnlondon.com, www.npr.org

Sticking to the eCommerce Sandbox

Say it aint so!  Amazon is about to join the dark side and open a bricks and mortar retail store.
After years of gargantuan losses, Amazon is now the biggest and wealthiest eCommerce website in the world. Once the biggest online bookstore it’s now the biggest online every store offering a vast array of products for sale from cotton buds to garden fertiliser to Gone Girl DVDs. With a $US74billion annual turnover, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos clearly knows what he’s doing.
Being a publicly listed company, shareholders want increasing returns so there’s an unending drive for greater profits. The whiteboard thinking is pretty clear: “Guys, eCommerce is only 6.4% of total retail sales (in the US) so we’re missing out on 93.6% of the market. How about we…”
As we were talking about numbers, here’s a number that possibly caught the eye of Amazon executives: $US476billion. That was the 2014 turnover of bricks and mortar retail behemoth Walmart.
So many brands, searching for new ways to leverage their brand name recognition have found out that not sticking to what they’re known for is a recipe for disaster. Book retailer Barnes & Noble found that out the hard way when they tried to take on a pipsqueak new website called Amazon some years ago.
Why try to play in someone else’s sandbox when the one you own has an infinitely greater potential for growth than anyone else’s? Extrapolate that $74billion turnover for the day that eCommerce accounts for 50% of retail sales. That should keep the shareholders smiling.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Images Courtesy: www.amazon.com and teoblog.net
 

The Bastardry of The Bachelor

In the past few weeks, Australia has been genuinely shocked by a reality show.
Front page news, TV & radio interviews, modelling contracts; had it not been for all the wrong reasons (depending on your perspective) it would have been a PR’s dream.
When Blake Garvey proposed to Samantha Frost on The Bachelor reality TV show they were supposed to live happily ever after. They sailed off into the sunset on a holiday to South Africa.
We sighed at the romance of it all and turned to another program fully prepared to never think of them again.
But when ‘love rat’ Garvey dumped Frost days after the cameras stopped rolling we were outraged. We agreed when she called him a “jackass” and a “joke”. You could call it the bastardry of The Bachelor.
One of my favourite movies is The Truman Show, where from birth Truman Burbank’s life is entirely concocted for a TV show, complete with product placement. He is the only person unaware of the role that he’s playing. The aftermath of The Bachelor represents the same blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality.
As far as I know, this is not a movie. This is playing with people’s lives for the benefit of ratings, a baying crowd if you will. It’s the Coliseum without the lions and the swords.
Part of our insatiably human demand for stimulation has always been the need for heroes and villains. Clearly, we’re not very discerning as to where and how we find them. Nor is there much concern as to who gets hurt along the way.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Images Courtesy: www.chicagonow.com &  www.bachelorgossip.com
 

Tweet Tweet Hurrah!

Twitter is eight today. Even though it doesn’t sound like much, the microblogging platform is only two years younger than Facebook – a veteran among social networks.
The people at Twitter HQ see it as their mission to “give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers”. Most would however probably agree that Twitter presents its users with one of the most well known social media related barriers of them all; the 140 character limit.
It’s an interesting thing, the 140 character limit. As a Twitter user you may have wondered why there’s a limit to start with. It keeps people from going on and on about stuff no one cares about, forcing users to keep information short and concise. The most plausible reason, however is that a 140 character limit prevents tweets sent to a cell phone to be split into two SMS. The limit was quickly accepted by millions and nowadays about a quarter of a million monthly active users send half a billion tweets each day.
Maybe the limit makes things more challenging and fun, or perhaps it makes the medium more quick and easy-going. Twitter’s role as a broadcasting platform has become apparent for a number of its users; businesses and individuals alike. As it often doubles as an RSS feed, it provides a golden opportunity for users to share content design of their own or others.
So now the little blue bird is an adult and is expected to keep tweeting for many years to come. If you can remember your first tweet, then please share it with us. If you can’t however, then Twitter can help you find it, or anyone’s first tweet for that matter, right here.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
 
Image courtesy: salon.com, creativefolks.sitemaker.com.au

The Art of the Hoax

If you hang around the Internet, as people tend to do these days, it would take a big effort to miss the “First Kiss” video. Teary eyed friends have shared it, calling it the most beautiful thing they ever saw. It’s so spontaneous, so awkward, so heart-warming; and so very much an ad.
Not long ago it was revealed that all the 20 men and women in the video were in fact paid actors, musicians and models. It takes away the spontaneity, erases that somewhat sweet awkwardness and sees the warmth slowly fading away. What’s left are the cold, hard facts and a liberal dose of reality. Sure, it was an actual first kiss for the people involved, but one planned out in detail in an attempt to go viral. No fun!

Anyway, this wouldn’t be the first time that love has been used for viral marketing purposes. Some may remember the Cinderella story including the Australian girl Heidi and her mysterious “man in the jacket”. They met at a cafe and really enjoyed each other’s company. Unfortunately he was in a rush and accidently left his jacket behind. Disaster! What’s a girl to do? Well, she posts a video on YouTube, asking the man owning the jacket to get in touch. That’s sweet, isn’t it? But as it turns out, there wasn’t really a prince charming to begin with, only a jacket from a menswear line from a big Australian retail company.

All’s fair in love and war… and advertising, or is it? We want to believe that those kisses were real and that Heidi was in fact looking for the man of her dreams, because those things DO happen, right? When confronted, “Heidi” (her real name is Lilly) wouldn’t admit that the video was a hoax, had us clinging on to the hope that romance isn’t just created by the media. When she eventually came clean, it didn’t even matter anymore. The video had already gotten a lot of attention, mission accomplished.
Viral marketing – cheap trick or effective strategy? How much attention would the “First Kiss” or the “Man in the Jacket” videos get if they were, without a doubt, ads? The secrecy is part of the marketing; the discussion around the authenticity of the videos is what gives viral marketing some of its power. It doesn’t matter what you think about this way of promoting a product. “First Kiss” got all kinds of attention from social media, in the press and now you read about it in this post, proving that it does in fact work. Viral marketing may however result in a society where we are reluctant to trust anything at all, which just might be a way of killing online marketing in the long run.
There are however examples of where this kind of authenticity stunt is just pure fun, not to say genius. Otherwise it’s best to be honest, as deceiving your customers just might backfire on you.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image & video courtesy: independent.co.uk, Youtube; Tatia Pllieva, H3idi8

The belVita Trophy

Would you like to get a trophy for getting up in the morning? OK, maybe not as much for getting up as for doing those habitual things you do to get ready for a new day of whatever it is you do. The people at belVita thought that the answer to this question would be “YES!” – with Caps Lock firmly in place. The campaign is simple; tweet @belVita about your morning win, be it finding matching socks or making the perfect omelette, using the hashtag #MorningWin. The one with the best tweet gets an actual trophy with their 3D printed morning achievement on top. Honourable mentions get personalized certificates, videos and virtual trophies from belVita.

This ingenious campaign is a great example of how a company can engage its customers whilst getting a small army of copywriters doing its bidding. User generated content is one of those marketing wants, but “should we use it?” is easier to answer than “how can we get it?” This is why we’re so happy to discover potentially viral campaigns that manage to engage customers, have them contributing to the brand in question, all while merging everything to the product in a way that feels somewhat given.
Depending on your product, you may or may not be in for a hard time creating a campaign of your own that creates such impact and conversation like this one. Grumpy competitors could claim that belVita had a stroke of luck coming up with this little treasure, but they know as well as the rest of us do that it takes an equal amount skill at the very least. It’s about knowing your audience and your product – finding the little things that link them together. It’s a jigsaw puzzle where the last missing piece is the one making all the difference between a campaign being mediocre and genius.
We don’t have access to the minds of the men and women behind the Morning Win campaign, but you can bet that it took quite a lot of brainwork and creative flare. Don’t expect to just sit down on your lunchbreak and come up with a killer idea. Knowing your customers is key to any successful marketing campaign and to do that you need to do your homework. Lazy marketers will most likely be the ones failing, so take the time to care for your product, your customers and your campaign.

The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image/video courtesy: lifestyle.uk.msn.com / Youtube: belVita

Twitter’s Grand Design

So Twitter has been quite active recently. It’s what’s to be expected from a network of Twitter’s calibre; as a recently listed company they have quietly introduced a new profile pagedesign to a limited amount of users (a complement to an earlier redesign). As one of the top ten biggest social networks, it was only a matter of time before the little blue bird would make it into the stock exchange, thus constant updates are to be considered a necessity.
 
The new design has however been far too familiar for some users, as it’s quite similar to updates as seen on Facebook and/or Google+. Changes include:

        A larger profile photo and a wider header photo;
        Tweets are no longer arranged vertically, but scattered in a way resembling a news feed;
        A design focusing a lot more on images and video in general;

One might wonder where this is heading. Becoming more image-oriented is one way of taking on competitors like Instagram (and owner Facebook) head on, while changes to the timeline could be a way of making it more compatible with sponsored tweets. Ultimately; these recent updates has made Twitter a significantly competitive communication platform for marketing.

At the time of writing, it’s not sure whether or not all changes will be applicable, but it gets you thinking about the future of social media (in terms of this becoming generic interface) and its impact on the user experience. Competing social networks are moving towards similar end results – they want to connect people, they want users to share quality content, they want ad revenue and they want to be the social network user’s preference over their competitors. Piece of cake?
There are similar problems solved with similar solutions. Twitter started out allowing # and @ in posts, Facebook then followed suit as it’s a great way of connecting users with one another (consumer and brands). If an image oriented interface gives Twitter the opportunity to compete with Instagram, then that might be just what they needed to enhance the network’s functionality. If a profile page design works more effectively than others, then why change a winning concept?
Video is currently receiving a double golden thumbs up award for being the best communication medium, predicted to make out 50% of the total online consumption in 2014 and 69% in 2017 (according to a Cisco study cited by The Guardian). This would have us expect social networks to adapt accordingly. Will this result in a number of social media platforms looking pretty much the same? And how will they evolve from there? Either they fall back on their respective niches, or they merge into some kind of super network. We can make great things happen if we collaborate, or is that being overly optimistic?
What we see is the evolution of social media – the survival of the fittest. In China, social network RenRen took a swing at competitor Kaixin by buying the kaixin.com URL and use it in quite an unethical way. You’d like to think that this is an exception, but in the future we could be watching the ultimate showdown of the social media networks – a dirty fight to the death. Because at the end of the day, users don’t really care about the company providing the service or product. They want solutions to THEIR problems, and the one who provides these solutions will be the last one standing.
Twitter’s updates may have it looking more like its bigger competitors, but this is all part of evolution. In the end, it’s not about who has the sharpest teeth, it’s about who produces the best ideas – the best results.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image courtesy: dribbble.com, crave.cnet.co.uk

The One that got Away – Flappy Bird

Have you heard of Flappy Bird? If you know or follow someone who’s even remotely into smartphone games, then you most likely have. It’s one of those simple but addictive games; press the screen to propel the bird upwards, avoid obstacles (pipes of the same design as those appearing in Nintendos “Super Mario Bros” titles, more on that later) and get a high-score. “Sounds easy enough, I think I’ll download it”. Problem is you can’t, as it has been removed from both Google Play and the App Store.
The creator, a Vietnamese gentleman by the name of Dong Nguyen, is as successful as he is enigmatic. He recently decided to pull the plug on Flappy Bird, a game that supposedly made him about $50.000 in ad revenue, per day. The reason apparently is that he couldn’t take the fame and infamy from Flappy Bird’s success. It doesn’t take a marketing genius to realize that turning down $50.000 a day just to receive peace of mind is something quite out of the ordinary and bound to attract attention. And what attention!
After announcing the withdrawal, downloads went to the roof. The game has received more than 50,000 reviews – that’s more than Evernote and Gmail – and Mr Nguyen himself has amassed more than 160,000 followers on Twitter. There is of course a downside to this kind of media attention. The creator has received a hailstorm of murder and suicide threats from angry Flappy Bird fans. Considering the major media attention (and invaluable incentive that come with it), it’s easy to think of the announcement as a bold marketing stunt.
But it happened. You won’t find Flappy Bird in the app store anymore. Some people are disappointed and others couldn’t care less. Does this mean that Dong Nguyen actually got sick of it all? It could be, but you need to know this;

        Ads will still roll for those who have already downloaded the game, resulting in continuous ad revenue;
        Dong Nguyen has other games in the app store now getting some of that dreaded attention; will they run the risk of getting removed as well?

A marketing genius or game developer looking for a simple life? No one really knows – maybe it’s a way to avoid lawsuits from Nintendo for copying their design, maybe those threats on Twitter got the better of him. Maybe it’s a way to create artificial scarcity in order to increase revenue.
Regardless, this is a unique case that those interested in marketing should add to memory. If this wasn’t just a marketing stunt, then it will be interesting to see how others use information gained from the abrupt end to Flappy Bird.

The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image courtesy: Popmatters.com, Digitaltrends.com