BEYOND Advertising!

Vignettes from A Day In Your Not-So-Future Life

As I walked into the bathroom, the body scanning sensors could tell I had a rough night. Sure enough, looking into the mirror, it displayed an ad for Panadol(extra strength) which was dynamically inserted as sponsor of my morning sports video highlights. In addition, a coupon offer from Nabo coffee was presented along with my daily agenda, which I dropped into my mobile watch.

 

My automated home system had already connected with my Google self drive and ordered me a car. Since I had earned over 1000 points last month based on my social sharing activity, I received an offer to try 3 breakfast items from a sponsor, Tim Hortons, with the caveat to ‘ please share your thoughts on the breakfast with your social network. I devoured the greasy delight while sitting in the backseat of my selfie-car while it drove into the city.

 

The ads that rose from the ether as I looked out of the windows were personalised and behaviorally driven with time and place considered.

 

When I selected quiet, contemplative music for the drive, I wasn’t surprised when the ‘ brought to you by ‘ included a yoga studio and a spa; both offering same week specials if booked within an hour and a voice link to testimonials from ” friends ” within my social network.

 

At the office I entered the Google collaboration holodeck with five others; we connected to the global team(another 12 members) and used voice, text, touch screen tech to share, move, grab, iterate on ideas, designs, models(which we 3D printed) for the proposed E Sports stadium for the Brisbane Olympic Games in 2032.

 

On the way home later I received several invitations to stop or order dinner for home delivery, al, based on known preferences, what I ate yesterday, my bio read for today, with ratings from within my social sphere.I decided on delivery(noodles) and decided, once home, I needed a good laugh, so asked my virtual video concierge for all Academy Award winning comedies of the past decade, along with ratings my friends had given and also asked to see if anyone wanted to co view and connect this evening.

 

While watching the comedy film, I was on Twitter and received sponsored Twitter amplified comedy shorts; both were outtakes from the movie I was watching and ” best of ” clips from the actor’s other work.

 

I ended the day in bed with my e-book reading a few pages to me, along with sharing tomorrow’s weather(brought to you by Carrier) and any key meetings on my agenda( a reminder from Timex).

Bruce Neve, Former CEO, StarcomMediavest Group 

 

What we find compelling about this above extract from Bruce(projected in 2013) is that the vast majority of what he describes is not only possible today, but is being practiced, tested and evaluated for new levels of effectiveness related to traditional approaches by marketers across categories.

 

Going Back In Time

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Genesis 3:1–5

 

If we assumed this biblical account were literally and historically accurate, we might argue that the serpent was the first advertiser, and this was the very first instance of deceptive advertising. Setting aside that some people would challenge this description’s historical accuracy, others likely would argue that it isn’t advertising—it’s direct selling! Or perhaps it’s public relations. Does that really make a difference? Of course, if the serpent was the first adman, that makes all of us in the industry a professional descendant of the serpent.

 

If we are to look at the future of something, then it is important to correspondingly understand its historical, cultural and anthropological origins. Therein lies some telltale signs and the crystal ball.

 

It is said that the future arrives gradually and then all of a sudden.
We’ve been hearing about the pending “death of advertising” for years, with ever-increasing ads having less and less influence on actual consumer decisions. Today, the up to 10,000 ads we see every day makes each of them less impactful. It turns out that hitting people in the face with a fire hose is actually a bad way to convince them they should take a drink.
The consumer is hard to impress( we could call them ‘ infidels ‘ in some way) and the next decade of advertising relies completely on them buying into our largely tech-driven, utopian vision of making every single advertising message relevant to the receiver. If you consider yourself able to predict the future within any reasonable degree of accuracy, you’ll know that a solid human understanding is absolutely essential.
Over the next 10 years, advertising will move further away from communicating to predicting, and emoting, based on human needs. According to a study by neuroeconomist Paul Zak, three out of eight people now love brands more than their spouses, because thinking of brands releases more oxytocin – the same reaction generated when being hugged. 

Without a doubt, we’re going to witness(or already witnessing) a shift from obsessing over what advertising looks like, to what advertising feels like. As we call it at ISD Global – Unique Feelings Proposition(UFP) is far more significant than the by now passe Unique Selling Proposition(USP).

And for that to happen, advertisers talking will get replaced by advertisers listening. Hearing what the customer is saying will be more important than trying to devise a break-through creative idea. Answering customers’ questions. Right now. Not tomorrow.The individual is the shaper of her own identity and its own online & offline presentation. She is no longer the consumer of the media. She is the medium– the most trusted and personal channel through which content is created, flows, finds shape, and gets presented to the world.

 

The hyper-personalization of advertising will indeed further empower the consumer but it may also save advertising from its oft predicted doom. 

 

In order to develop a future for advertising brands, there could come into existence a Need Bar. The Need Bar would be personalised for every consumer, so as to give her the ability to look for anything she needs at any time.This would result in a brand not only being present in the life of a consumer, but also catering to her every need, from any brand. Inevitably, the future of advertising will incorporate more consumer knowledge derived from the hard sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics, to complement that acquired from the softer sciences of psychology and sociology.

 

The needle is moving. Most advertisers in the very near future(if not already) would have completed their natural evolution from adjacency(stand next to the stuff people want!) to interruption( stand in the way of the stuff people want!) to content marketing (be the stuff that people want!). Enter a new era where brands that do business using a Consumer Era ” marketing as manipulation ” mindset will become irrelevant and superseded by companies that demonstrate a Relationship Era mindset. And, as forces at play lead the Relationship Era to the tipping point of wide acceptance, I believe that marketers will not be known as the scoundrels who spin but rather people with the greatest expertise in crafting authentic relationships– and adding most value to their brands and businesses.

 

What if?

– What if marketers and brands saw their marketing and advertising as an investment and a value creation engine rather than as an expense to be squeezed?

– What if the brands were seen as bringing in not only advertising dollars but also valued content to the media properties and channels they use?

– What if the creative, analytic and strategic genius that lies within the sum total of the world’s media, advertising, digital, creative etc agencies, research firms, ad tech companies, sponsorship, brand placement, – and all other players who ‘ feed off advertising ‘- were given a more inspired briefIncrease sales and leave the world a better place. Come in on budget and be proud to tell your family about what you helped create. Help us, all of us, be in thought, word and deed, create something truly exceptional!

– What if the community were to be expanded to all those whose actions imparted the brand and how it actually came to life for its audience? Not only the traditional stakeholders, but also others who could potentially describe the broader value of the brand and the brand experience in even more creative and impactful ways.

– What if all the ways that brands were brought to life with their potential and current customers were thought of holistically, and resources were allocated accordingly?

– What if every bit of the US$ 780 billion plus paid, earned and owned advertising expenditure around the globe not only resulted in sales and profit, but also resulted in net positive impact on society and culture? What if, in addition, it made a positive impact on the lives of those who were involved in it and influenced| inspired by it?

WHY NOT?

As Albert Einstein famously asserted ” Without changing our pattern of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems we created with our current patterns of thought “.

 

Amid all the changes, “the fundamental things apply as time goes by,” to quote the famous song from the classic movie Casablanca. A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is still a sigh, and human nature doesn’t change over time. Our obsessive drives to survive, to succeed, to belong and to be loved, to take care of our own—those passions have been heightened by the pandemic, and advertisers and their agencies who are sensitive to those basic needs will create brands to meet them, an act that will always require advertising.

 

Creativity will remain the most powerful force in business, and instead of changing campaigns with every change of a CMO, advertisers will rediscover the importance of consistently projecting a clear sense of purpose and doing so with a distinctive brand voice. Along the way, we’ll learn the difference between an algorithm and a true insight into human nature and the important difference between big data and a big idea.

 

Advertising has been both cause and consequence of social change.Never was it more obvious than since the start of the twentieth century. That, of course, is both a positive and a negative. It is a powerful tool of change, and like any tool, it can be misused. And at times it has been.I have no doubt that advertising will rise to meet that challenge.

ENDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Creative Apocalypse: Preparing your Client

The Creative Apocalypse: Preparing your Client!

There is great, there is good and there is average (ok).

Superlative. Comparative. Relative. Most of us want  (at least there is good enough intent!) to do good work and over a period of time how that transmits to average and below remains an unsolved mystery. Have we ever started out saying; ” Let’s do some Great Work “? No one came into the profession thinking ‘I really want to produce work that’s a bit meh, a bit vanilla, that makes no impact on the world and sinks without a trace.’ So how come we don’t see brave creative work that often? The occasional breakthrough shines like a lighthouse across a lacklustre sea of work that is often undeniably boring, weirdly familiar or just more than a little disappointing.

 

So how is the end game playing out? It’s a whole new world out there. Recession or no recession- there is a perennial pressure on budgets and jobs. The ‘always on shifting media landscape and the move from broadcasting messages to managing conversations. The balancing of brand, ROI and an increasing reliance on data and metrics. There is safety in numbers (metrics reloaded!). Data is the new oil. And that too is now old hat. And how! All of these things have stitched together a sinister conspiracy in the last 10 years or so and made it more difficult for creatively brave work to ever see the light today(with some exceptions of course).  It takes real balls for a client, or an agency, to take a leap of faith in this climate. Till then, it’s a lip of fate! And sealed at that. ‘ Faith accompli ‘ anyone?

Where does the skull drudgery end? What can be done? Selling creatively brave ideas requires an ability to promote the safety of risky situations (don’t miss the contradiction here), psychological management skills and a client that can hold their nerve (while letting go of her purse strings!). Sometimes you have to help hold it for them.

This situation provides both agency and the client an absolutely perfect platform to do creative tango. So here is the brief(in vest in it!): Depart from norm(it’s the mandatory new normal, so no big deal), break free from convention whilst remaining true to creating lasting campaign impact and brand recall. Surprise, delight, coerce, intimidate, purposefully provoke, question and come back to do more of the same. The brain remembers only what it least expects. So, deliver the unexpected. Don’t just hand hold the client, hold her heart and get to your customers’ soul in the process. That soul stirring exercise should be your sole purpose.

 

USP(Unique Selling Proposition) is passe, dead and buried. The time is about creating UFP( Unique Feeling Proposition). 

 

WANTED: Creative Bravehearts. On both sides. Ready to take the leap?

ADVerbatim: Some micro and macro outlooks

The caption of this article is a bit of soft pedaling. I am quite uncomfortable with the word ‘ trends ‘ because it is in more ways than one camouflaging what is called ‘ herd mentality ‘ which leads to the inevitable SOS(Sea of Sameness). And in an increasingly commoditized world, you may be birds of the same feather, but..flocking together ??
Amidst the tempest of pandemic driven uncertainty and disorientation, here’s a crystal ball gaze at some obvious and not so obvious landscapes that the advertising industry could be witness to in the coming months.
– The biggest boycott in history to continue- I am referring to ad blocking– with over 600 million devices in its universe and growing, the wake up alarm has long been sounded for brands, agencies and advertisers. According to Hootsuite, the UAE has close to 40% of ad blocking( countries like Indonesia, India are at over 50%). Research states that one of the primary reasons for ad blocking is too many ads that are irrelevant, annoying and have nothing to do with creativity. Creativity is future proof and the sooner brand guardians get re-sensitized to that, in a pull and engage scenario(as against the widely practiced push and control), the better.
– Unless something dramatic happens, online programmatic advertising is writing its own obituary. Advertisers are being abused blind by adtech ferrets. Research from Media Post concludes that out of the US$200 billion global spend, 70% of advertising dollars spent on online programmatic advertising never touch a human being. In effect, $140 billion disappears in “ad fees, fraud, non-viewable impressions, non-brand-safe placements, and unknown allocations” (by “unknown allocations” you can read “shit that no one can figure out”).
 
– The pandemic brought first-time advertisers to many platforms, especially OOH and DOOH, 2022 will be no different. New categories like Fintech, NFTs, Crypto (with their supporting companies), and Online/E SportsWellbeing,EdTech, FoodTech categories will continue to flourish. After the dash for Expo 2020 attention, big opportunities will come to the fore for advertisers courtesy the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
– Advertisers and marketers will need to be as nimble as consumers. The pandemic not only accelerated omnichannel retail but also created hybrid behaviours beyond how we shop. From a mix of virtual and in-person fitness to IRL experiences with digital extensions, how we work, play and live is fluid and consumers expect brands to keep up with the rapid pace. For marketers, that means mapping every consumer touchpoint and applying a collection of insights – location, identity, cross-device, in-person, in-stream, etc. – to creative concepts that earn consumers’ attention while respecting privacyThe agility of marketers to behave as nimbly as consumers will translate into brand loyalty in a rapidly growing hybrid world.
– A largely ignored, under served imperative will come to the fore for marketers and advertisers- Building company culture: The industry never had attrition rates as high as it had in 2021, and we’ve never had as many remote employees either. The Great Resignation continues unabated. Last year, the better organisations focused on retention and put a hyper-focus on recognition. Without in-person interactivity, you have to be so deliberate about your culture, especially during remote work. In the coming times, brands and businesses will put a lot of focus on how they create a culture of retention, diversity and recognition. Creativity will have to make a serious comeback.
 
– For better or for(commerce)verse- Last year we saw a continued acceleration of social with e commerce and sowing of the seeds of ‘ community commerce ‘ glued together by community, creators, shopping and entertainment like never before. In 2022, we’ll see social commerce give way to the “commerceverse” as people begin to move from entertainment to purchase. And as consumers look to build out their environment with virtual goods and experiences, brands will have the opportunity to connect with consumers in a surround-sound way.
 
– Agency In-Housing: The in-housing trend at brands will not go away, but it is in reverse — to a point. Turns out, it’s too expensive, too complicated and too political for many brands to do at any real scale. Especially when so many businesses are trying to wrangle costs, not inflate them, during a global economic downturn. The pandemic’s knock on the economy forced many marketers to live hand-to-mouth and the flexibility offered by agencies proved to be critical to survival.
– Artificial Intelligence will find a greater say in services like copywriting and content generation– especially with tools like GPT 3(Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) -an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. It helps instantly generate high quality copy for Email, Ads, Websites, Listings, Blogs & More. Save Time And Money Writing Clever, Original Content And End Writer’s Block Forever is the pitch.
 
– One should have heeded this as a premonition- sometime back the Meaningful Brands study conducted by Havas told us that most people would not care if 74% of all brands disappeared for goodHow can brands bridge the gap between apathy and action, particularly with that all-important millennial audience – the biggest generation and the leaders of tomorrow as we collectively take responsibility for getting closer to the UN SDG(Sustainable Development Goals).If we want to change the world, we all have to be involved. All people, of all ages, every brand, no exceptions. Bridging that gap means recognising that brands can be citizens too, with a responsibility to promote, share, create exposure and help to make change. Most importantly, brands can help people to connect to a political process that will make an impact on the world they live in – and that their children will inherit – to act as citizens themselves and not simply as consumers. That is a brand’s role as a citizen – to help consumers be citizens too.
 
To quote Woody Allen, ” 80% of success is just showing up “. There is no better time to create a bright future.
 
– Playing it by earWhile our eyes may be ‘maxxed’ after more than a year of relentless screen time, our ears have bandwidth. Our ears are more reliable curators, opting for human connection and unscripted conversations that podcasts and radio provide. A recent WARC Lion’s Intelligence study showed consumers now spend a third of their media time with audio, but most brands spend less than 10% of their media budget with audio. There is no question brands need to right-size their audio investment. But, getting beyond the spreadsheet and learning how to create a real human conversation with the consumer is the secret to winning with audio. Here’s to more conversations about how brands can get heard and get growth with audio in 2022.
 
– This is how the cookie crumbles:The impending demise of third-party cookies has drastically altered the digital advertising world while simultaneously highlighting how vital first-party data is and will be into the future. For now, first-party and third-party data will continue to exist, and advertisers can maximise this opportunity to run various experiments to ensure they are ready for when third-party cookies are no longer a source of targeting data. Brands that embrace first-party data, contextual advertising, and other third-party data alternatives today will be the industry leaders tomorrow.
– RIP to RFP? : The RFP(Request for Proposal) bandwagon indulged in by enterprises from agencies to extract the cheapest possible price for their services. This comes with scant regard to competence, expertise, empirical evidence and worse who contributes the original idea which is now happily being sacrificed at the ‘ cheapest pricing altar ‘. And we are all aware that ‘ insider trading ‘ is not just restricted to the stock market. Time to cremate this archaic, merit agnostic practice.
 
– Measurement will be back as the next frontier in 2022 — fueled by the unprecedented rise of CTV, the uncertain future of cookies and identity transactions in digital, and the disruption of Nielsen ratings. As we build for an ever-interconnected digital future, the ‘measurement reset’ is an opportunity to build the relationships between consumers, content creators, publishers and their advertising partners.
 
– Meta will emerge as part of brand experience and communication conversations and NFTs(Non Fungible Tokens) will begin to come into the brand ecosphere but we are still some time away from these becoming right, front and centre.
 
I remain conscious of brevity and hence would come to a halt here though there are quite a few more that I would have liked to list as we telescope into the emerging future of the advertising and marketing industry. Maybe in a separate piece.
 
ENDS
Suresh Dinakaran – Chief Storyteller at ISD ISD Global, a Dubai based branding and ideas hotshop and the Managing Editor of BrandKnew, a multifaceted media asset, published across print, digital and web versions.

Don’t Leave Home WIT(hout) it!

If I recall right, AMEX Credit Cards used to have this seminal tagline ‘ Don’t Leave Home Without It ‘ coined by advertising great David Ogilvy. But your visa to a perfect quip or comeback after it didn’t matter—a minute, hour, or day after one of your conversations has ended? Yes, you got it. The best master card up your sleeve – WIT.

No need for WIThdrawal symptoms. You’re not doomed to sit by as ‘clever’ companions exchange sharp banter. You can practice being wittier, improving your reaction times and ability to land a jab or joke at just the right moment. Jokes don’t warrant social distancing. That was CoWIT talking.

Unlike perceived, WIT isn’t just for some gifted linguists. Playing with language—elevating mundane communication from mere talk into a creative process—is a form of innovation that sheds new light on old ideas. Plus, vitally, it makes life less boring and more fun for you and others. So, in short, we can all get better at being ‘ clever ‘.

Just as those highly skilled auto drivers on Bombay roads, if you can turn around (just like they do on a 6 cm radius!) words and phrases in the mind and present new juxtapositions, one can change the way we and other people see. Yes, it’s the road less travelled. But worth taking. So, get on WIT(h) it!

The wittiest among us are simply people who make unusual connections between words and ideas. And never verse off for it. Observations- Refreshed. Surprised!

In cognitive terms, the brain of the wit is less inhibited than that of a linguistic dullard. In other words, fairly, well ventilated shall we say? Are you WIT(h) me? Unabashed, uncensored access to associations, conscious and unconscious, is essential to wit. Apologies, people with brain damage don’t qualify!

The caudate nucleus is one area( 2 kms south of Mira Road..just kidding) of the brain implicated in associative learning and control of inhibitions that may explain how wit is generated. Likewise, the frontotemporal region( east of Kandahar..by now you know!) influences personality, language, and emotional development. Knowing precisely how these areas of the brain interact and regulate thinking will lead to better ‘ scientific comprehension of wit ‘. That is if you really are bothered about all of this in the first place.

So, if you are looking at a guide to ‘ advanced banter ‘, don’t wait for a breakthrough in brain science to cultiWEIGHT wit. (W)It’s reasonably simple. Just knowing that wit is a kind of associative process already makes you better equipped to be a verbal gymnast. The variety of the play of wit manifests through—puns( tumhee pun na!!), rhyme, metaphor, slang, rap(chick), to name a few.

The encouraging thing to understand here is that being creative about language can be mastered with practice. It’s not all natural talent. If you make peace with history and take a piece of it, in analyzing how wit arises or why we might rely on it, the oldest and most revered texts in the world, from the Tao Te Ching(nothing to do with what Neena Gupta endorses) to the Bible to the plays of William Shakespeare are replete with language play. When all the world is a rage, wit has a role to play. Perhaps on centre stage?

With linguistic gymnastics, we can reach people who might not otherwise think they’re interested in certain ideas and break down barriers. Hip-hop and rap, for example, exposed generations of music listeners of all classes and races to black culture they didn’t encounter in their own lives. (And Shakira has taught us that hips don’t lie). Wit’s an efficient way to say more with less, as in the case of a metaphor, or to expose unexpected mean ink, alternately meaning.

Wit is the antidote for a culture being dulled by communication overload—it’s a kind of wisdom. In Aristotle’s words, it is a form of “ educated insolence. ” If we were cracking wise, rather than vice versa ie reacting angrily, and being wittier(or Twittier?) on Twitter, we might all have a much better time.The rate of exchange between strangers and acquaintances online has never been so high(BSE/NASDAQ/FTSE etc please take note). But internet chatter is often toxic and commonly resorts to vitriolic retorts( would have preferred witriolic), angry declarations, and unnecessary observations. Wish that closed minds came with closed mouths. Hence, so many of us feel we are at our wit’s end.

You too can be a master of verbal jousting. Take the WITness stand. It is time to unleash the power WIThin!
Be at home WIT(h) it. But, don’t leave home WIT(hout) it.
(WIT’s) END
WIT AL PART ILL
Dubai

The changing idea of marketing as a concept!

If you are one of the marketers who embraces convention, no one will point a finger at you if you were to follow the norm that has been practiced for years. Build/produce/manufacture, brand, market, sell. Justified linear thinking.With strong empirical evidence( I mean brand and business success) to boot.

With so many years of conventional wisdom( that also is the wisdom of the crowds that drive collective bias) in the ring, it would have been a really uphill task for any brand to alter(let alone disrupt) the narrative. But there is something about audacity and moonshots that make them perfect partners in rhyme.

I devote this blog post predominantly to understand marketing from a new lens- the one that brand Tesla is scripting so brilliantly. Directed by Elon Musk(Iron Man). Allow me to go back a few years.

It’s the 4th of April, 2016. The Tesla Model 3 is being launched in the US. It sports a price tag of US$ 35,000 and bookings can be made with a U$1,000 down payment.  Then history unfolds. A whopping 276,000 cars were booked(read pre-sold) on the day, probably a first ever in automotive marketing . And Tesla gathered US$ 276 Million in upfront cash. And here’s where the story gets interesting. There was not even a model car ready. All the sales happened courtesy a few photographs of the Model 3. That’s it. There’s more. There was not even a single car that had gone into production. The first promised schedule for delivery of the Model 3 was late 2017, that was a good 18+ months away. Tesla had disrupted automotive marketing on it’s head and how.

Let’s try to understand more of the phenomena that is brand Tesla.

  • Tesla’s $0 marketing budget is incredibly awesome marketing
  • Tesla Motors has no advertising, no ad agency, no CMO, no dealer network. And that’s no problem. – AdvertisingAge
  • If you drop by the Tesla forums, you’ll see a community of passionate fans discussing how to market Tesla better. There are over 55,000 people subscribed to the /r/teslamotors subreddit. The brand has clearly struck a chord with its fans.
  • Tesla fans are crazy advocates. They attach deep emotional significance to the car. They’re not just paying for a mode of transportation, they’re paying for a slice of the future.
  • Prior to the Model 3 launch, Tesla had introduced the P100D Ludicrous– a luxury model priced over US$ 80,000(base level) with upgraded versions well over US$ 100,000. The marketing masterstroke was in the message conveyed. ” While the PD100 Ludicrous is an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasise that every sale helps pay for the smaller and more affordable Model 3 which is under development. Without customers willing to buy the expensive Model S and X, we would be unable to fund the smaller, more affordable Model 3 “. This is brand positioning at it’s masterful best, making a luxury purchase almost into a charitable act.
  • Every element of the Model S – from the recharging technology to the drag coefficient of the car – is presented as the pinnacle of research and engineering.
  • By eschewing marketing completely, Elon Musk is actually communicating that Tesla is focused on ground breaking technology.
  • Tesla the brand transcended from being just another automotive player in the business to encompass economics, politics, world power to have global energy NOT driven by oil. In the process, creating the marketplace, the eco system where they are the game. As also the game changer.

“ BMW has a marketing department called engineering.” – Seth Godin

These things obviously don’t bother Musk too much. If one were to give him an advertising budget, he is sure to divert that into production. And the final result: an even more incredible car. And inspite of NO Advertising, he gets the world talking about his brand, especially the people who matter.

How does Tesla manage to do all of this free of cost which other brands would spend millions to buy?

First, build something that matters to people. Then, tell a story that resonates with people. Just like iPhones/iPod and Steve Jobs, electric cars are a great story. The greatest stories are aspirational, representing the triumph of passion, conviction, persistence and diligence.

” I know a lot of very wealthy people.  Most of them made their money in technology.  I don’t think Bentley or Rolls-Royce is anywhere near the top of very many of these people’s idea of an impressive car.  A Tesla is more like it “. – Jimmy Wales, on Quora

This sort of advertising is earned, not bought.

You earn this sort of attention by making something truly newsworthy. Or saying something newsworthy.

” The public tends to be, as they should, interested in things that are precedent and superlatives.” – Elon Musk

Musk is all over YouTube. The media is chasing him nine to the dozen. Why? Because he is always working on cool, fascinating, path breaking projects.

Musk is a CEO who understands the power of showmanship(tonnes of interviews, cameo roles in films and media appearances.

Just GoogleElon Musk  says ‘and you will get the most quotable of quotes that media loves to lap up and carry forward.

The Hyperloop is something that Musk is NOT planning to make but delivers great PR for him as a tech visionary.

At most times,Tesla has more orders than they can build – that in itself is great marketing.

Tesla has demonstrated that brands and organisations can move on from a Build/produce/manufacture, brand, market, sell model to that of a brand, market, sell, build one. Welcome to the next normal.

As William Gibson would say, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”-  which will be nothing like what we have experienced before, we’re all going to be completely re-evaluating so many aspects of our lives: education, medicine, work, social responsibility, inner calling, the list goes on. And under the aegis of the Covid 19, all of this is happening remotely right now. And the question for a lot of companies and brands is going to be: Now that this shift has happened, am I still relevant? Does what I do still make sense? Am I serving an essential function, especially in a time when everyone is being careful about their finances?

Answering in the affirmative will separate the men from the boys. Wanted. More Musketeers!

ENDS

https://www.groupisd.com/story

https://www.brandknewmag.com

https://www.weeklileaks.com

https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com

Is SAD the new HAPPY in Advertising?

Let’s begin with the obvious. It’s an always on world. While being perennially and technologically connected, geography being history and all of that, at no time have humans been so socially disconnected in the real sense.The need (and significantly unmet) desire for human bonding has never been greater. Nuclear existence has stoked the potential that is kinetic in humans. There is a clamour to reach out and brands are bending over backwards to suit the new found relish for the pathos.
It’s a given that sad news travels fast. But, advertising that stokes emotions( or SADvertising as it is being called these days) that strikes a strong emotional piano chord and opens up the tear ducts, travels fast, wide and deep. Empathy meets exponential sharing, opens up a floodgate of brand conversations,triggers otherwise hard to come by response, sustains brand dialogue and keeps all stakeholders be it brand owners, ad agencies or end users, happy (ironic as it may sound!).
Why the sadness?
It is said that sad emotional content has the capacity to make people feel more emotionally connected to one another, especially powerful in our detached digital world. This sad connectedness makes people more likely to take an action such as sharing content, donating money, or buying a product.
Communicating sadness can create behavioral change
Scientifically speaking, when we hear interesting stories, specifically stories that make us feel distress or empathy, our brain produces two chemicals: cortisol, which links with our sense of distress and helps us focus our attention on something, and oxytocin, which is associated with our sense of empathy. When these two chemicals are triggered, studies show that people are more likely to give money to a cause related to the story they’ve heard.
In short, the study reveals that it is possible for a story to change a person’s behaviour by changing their brain chemistry. What does this mean for brands? Sad stories have the potential to move people to make a purchase. This is why we’ll likely see more of these sad ads in the future.
We have moved on from an era of media scarcity to an era of attention
scarcity. Getting people’s attention is what we’re trying to do, and I
think that meaning, something that people can relate to on a very
visceral level, is what drives a lot of the decisions we make when we’re
talking about things. Hyper competition has forced brands to not only
assure customers a good product or service but make it very relatable
and more meaningful than any other good product.
Over time brands have realised that the consumer culture has evolved
and people are more reflective and mindful of their lives. There is a
constant search for deeper layers of meaning once you have all the
things you need and most of the things you don’t need but desire. The
ad industry of the last decade was mean, cynical and celebrated
bitterness. Those were the days when brands wanted to be Sexy,
Swaggering or Sweeping. That showed up in most of the work that was
put up. Don’t blame them as it seemed to work for all concerned. But,
then after a while, people got sick of it and when a voice and tone which
conveyed exactly the opposite stuck in, the positive reaction was
overwhelming.
Lets list a few of the work from yesteryears where brands have stirred up a flood of emotions all over the world and that includes P&G and its commercial released around the Olympics(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUg6s-uIp1w), Honda’s Project Drive In(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kRU9Au-fhk), Coca Cola Life in Argentina(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPb1t3jU3sI), Nestle Good Life commercial in India(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syZju6ui394), Google’s Dear Sophie(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcHV_Dv9tlo), Dove’s Beauty Patch(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk), John Lewis(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9D-uvKih_k), Budweiser’s Puppy Love(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p_3lITiK_Q), the charming tale of a canine equine romance or Expedia’s commercial(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CzSeFHrSfM) about same sex marriage where the father fights his prejudice etc.
The flip side of this (which is worrying) is that it has become a trend. The
word ‘ emotional ‘ is now become the most over used word in client
agency briefs. If you are used to agencies creating a trend which should
ideally be the case(rather than following one), its time to take stock. We
just might be at a tipping point on this one. But, till such time, it sinks in,
it’s cry, cry, cry till you succeed for brands and agencies.
Go, grab your tissues!
ENDS
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Same Circus, New Monkeys!

The world is going digital at a frenzied clip. It’s gone from being the flavour of the season to being the only reason for brand marketers and CMOs. In this sordid vortex of elation and over glorification with digital being heralded as the manna from heaven, the campaign hits are paraded for the world to see. There is hardly any mention of the innumerable misses that get lost in the wilderness.

Take a look at the average CMO tenure- it’s not going anywhere beyond 18-24 months(with some exceptions of course). If it’s a hit parade through and through on all campaigns, would this be the threshold duration?

So the next time you have a fire and hire issue for a CMO, please do remember what your new CMO will say:-

It doesn’t matter what the problem is..the answer will be:

  • we need to get more digital
  • we need to get more younger

You have a crappy product:

  • we need to get more digital
  • we need to get more younger

You have no discernible strategy:

  • we need to get more digital
  • we need to get more younger

Your advertising is a stupid pile of shit:

  • we need to get more digital
  • we need to get more younger

Your stores are filthy, your people are morons:

  • we need to get more digital
  • we need to get more younger

If you are looking for a marketing job, repeat after me:

  • we need to get more digital
  • we need to get more younger

It seems to be the universal marketing strategy that will get you get employed by any dumb ass organisation. Never mind that you will last only 18 months. Or 24 at best. There is always another sucker(dumb ass organisation I mean) around the corner. That needs your ‘ keen insights ‘.

Agreed we are now in an era where the 4Ps of marketing has seen a shift to personalisation, privacy, permissions & performance- fully respect the merits of these. But it sure does not offer a license to overlook fundamentals like product quality, your advertising content, the customer experience you deliver, the human resources you have and the market insights that drive your R&D. Ideally, could the true CMO combine the traditional 4Ps with the new age 4Ps? What a potent combination that would be!

There is already talk in some organisations around the world about making the CMO position redundant. So, let’s not do our bit to accelerate the demise.

Digitelly yours!

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The future of advertising: a sneak peek!

The Future of Advertising: A Sneak Peek!

What could/should “advertising” look like in 2020 and beyond? What should we do now for that future?

Some questions that crowd our every day artery. Restless consumers and fast changing technology are creating unheralded disruption. Advertising has always been a combination of art and science. Technology is now becoming a third variable. Advertisers “have to get all three of these things right”. They have to be three good.

There are Un Ignorable Forces of Change. Throwing Unabated Challenges to the status quo. But having said that, once recognised, respected and responded right, they offer Unprecedented Upside Potential for the Future. Lets examine them below:-

Exponential Advances in Science & Tech: With IOT, AI, Machine Learning etc, we now have a deeper real time understanding of things, people, situations. Bringing along with it an outsized and unprecedented responsibility for what we do with that knowledge.

Empowered & Skeptical “Consumers” : Wanting Customerization & Personalization (make it mine), seeking Choice(Give me tools to make better decisions), expecting Competitive Value (Give me more for my money), searching for Communities( Let me be a part of it), across multiple Channels (I want to call, click and visit). Individuals with lives, aspirations, challenges, family, communities. They want to be worthy of respect and you need to earn their trust.

Media Disruption & Redefinition : One way has become Two Way, Static is now Dynamic, Stationary is now Mobile, Passive is now Sensing, One-Dimension is now Immersive, Visual has turned Multi sensory. There exists Unprecedented Platform Design Capabilities for delivering Exceptional Contextualised Experiences.

Culture, Society & Our World : Straddling many a Divide across Health, Income, Digital, Education, Equality & Tolerance, Climate & Sustainability.

Inspiring, Measurable Business Models: A heady mix of The customer driven/ holistic model , The co creation model,  The open innovation model , Network orchestration model , The Competitive Value Model, Transformation to full service provider model, The emerging market innovation engine model, The shift to digital and network business models

So what are the takeaways that we can extract from the above listed landscape?

– Traditional mindsets, including those about advertising and marketing, must be challenged and potentially changed. I am referring to the Mental Models: The Primary Impediment to Transformation- For eg: “It has always worked this way.” “We tried it and it didn’t work.” “We’re profitable; why change?..and so forth! 

Before Roger Bannister broke the 4 Minute Mile on May 6, 1954, nobody thought that such a record could be set. We need to ask ‘ What is your 4 minute mile ‘ ?

Its the time to challenge our Mental Models of Advertising and Move from Marketers and Agencies, through Media, at Target Demographics toward being Cross-Silo Collaborators, from Ads toward Orchestrated Value-Creation Touch points, from Frequency toward When Needed, Wanted, Appreciated, from Reach toward Where Needed, Wanted, Appreciated, from Push and Persuade For Sales toward Multi Win Outcomes,pull & engage, from Ad Campaigns toward Initiatives in Holistic, Dynamic Ecosystem.

There is also a great upside in starting to use a new Vocabulary:

From Campaign To Initiative, From Content To Substance, From Persuading To Inspiring and Enabling, From Selling To Serving, From Seeking Loyalty To Earning Trust, From Disruption To Better/Alternate Solutions, From Features and Benefits to Brand Roles in People’s Lives, From Brand Differentiation To Brand Distinctiveness, From Employees To Brand Ambassadors, From Talent To Brand Stewards, From Consumers(myopic) To People with Lives, From Advertising Campaigns To Value Creation Initiatives, From Direct Response To Actionable Communications, From Big Data To Actionable Insights, From Success/Failure To Learning.

The time has come to challenge everything. Leave no sacred cows. Even challenge the objective of the firm from maximising long term shareholder value to aligning the objectives of the brand, the people (consumers…) and society.

– A strong call out to shift your focus from media mix to portfolios of all touchpoint orchestration. Go beyond the 4 Ps- bring in CeX, CSR, Packaging, Web & App etc all. The path to purchase is not linear any more. Operating in a sliver is not serving the purpose.

– Leverage the power of content( make RAVES– Relevant, Actionable, Valuable, Exceptional & Shareworthy) and the power of context( MADE: Multi Sensory, Audience driven, Delivery across platforms, Environment & location sensitive) that helps deliver your compelling brand purpose.

– Be always in beta– in adaptive experimentation mode to foster innovation, to learn faster & better, to attract and retain better talent, to hoodwink competition.

There’s no shortage of screens and there’s no shortage of impressions. But there’s a shortage of high value connection points between brands and consumers, which is the whole point of advertising. You have to create effective engagement with the consumer that gets them to buy.

Latin is very much Greek to me but as I come towards the end of this piece some Latin to keep an eye on. We have passed those days of ‘ Caveat Emptor ‘( meaning Buyer Beware). The new skid on the block these days is ‘ Caveat Venditor ‘ ( meaning Seller Beware ). 

As the brilliant Bob Hoffman puts it ” If you want to die an imbecile in advertising, don’t pay attention to art, literature, history, science, anthropology or nature. Pay attention to the Kardashians “.

Going back to Latin mode- friends- Semper Vigilans (meaning stay vigilant)!

ENDS

https://www.groupisd.com/story

https://www.brandknewmag.com

https://www.weeklileaks.com

https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com

Numerology and the Marketing Math!

Numerology and the Marketing Math: The 25 to 70% off enigma!

Numerology: Definition: The branch of knowledge that deals with the occult significance of numbers.

We are all swayed by possibility. As we are swayed by short cuts. Human beings are hardwired to be lazy. So, unless and until there is a by design effort to put in the emotional labour​, routine is the ardently followed also ran. Mundane replaces the potential jugular. It remains that way, because it’s always been done that way. So why upset the applecart? But what happens when the cart is being toppled?

​I am not a numbers person. Far from it. It somehow just doesn’t add up for me. So, I have almost subtracted it from my life. But, being in the space that I am, and observing the brand marketing communications around me, I am tempted to do a deeper dive and know more.

25 to 70%off: Most of you would have seen these numbers ​scream out at us day in and day out from newspapers, billboards, radio ads, digital ads etc. In fact, some of us were mistaking the 25 to 70% off to be a tourist destination(considering how many of them sprout all over the city)- One cannot miss it because leading brands across industry verticals with the support and ‘ advise ‘ of big ticket advertising agencies make sure such campaigns are run 13 months in a year. So, that makes it 24X7X395. A different numerology this!

The ever lasting love affair of brand and marketing experts with 25 to 70% off remains a mystery. Or by now, it should not be. Considering the amount of time ‘ the practice ‘ has come to root(or should it be rot?). And the practice has been perfected beyond question. And ably aided by ‘ brand guardians ‘ who toe the line willingly as this ‘ ad vise ‘ is coming from senior czars at the big ticket ad agencies– how can they get their ‘ numbers ‘ wrong? . They have everything going for them- They use ‘ fancy  calculators ‘, wear Armani suits, have Turkish coffee 8 times a day, the hair is slickly gelled. Sorry, forgot to add the clincher-they also wear crocodile skin pointed leather shoes!!!

I have heard somewhere that ‘ the more things change, the more they remain the same ‘. Recently, a very senior brand and business head of a market leading lifestyle brand called us at ISD Global saying that they are in troubled times. They were losing market share and from being a clear category leader with over 65% retail market share, it was time for store closures, downsizing(or rightsizing to make it sound sweeter) and market share dipping to below 40% – all that in a matter of about 18 months. Inspite of increased marketing spends as advised by the ‘ experts ‘. My question to him was to understand what were they doing different to what was being done and not surprisingly the answer remained ‘ we have aggressively started doing deep discounting and instead of doing it 4 times a year, we remain committed to doing it through the year ‘…so there you go, enough said – ‘ the more things change, the more they remain the same ‘.

​So, do these brand owners and guardians take their coveted ad agencies to task? I’m afraid not. If that were to happen, how can they make ‘ interesting, cerebral conversation ‘ saying that our brand works with XXXX agency – they are in the Top 5…and walk around with a chip on their shoulder​. And be ranked among ‘ Top 50 ‘ Marketing Professionals in XXXX. Recognised as the ‘ best 40 under 40 ‘ or the ‘ leading 50 over 50 ‘- to be flagged on their Linked In profile. And ‘buy awards ‘ and (p)ride of place in Superbrands next hard bound edition.

Customers buy only on price and the more you deep discount, more loyalty they bring to the equation is still the belief(believe it or not!). We can keep bribing them and they will keep flocking like bees to honey. But, what happened? The numbers are not adding up. ​​The 25 to 70% off numerology chapter needs to turn the page. The strategy is now clearly a ‘ has BEEn ‘! And still being tried Bees Saal Baad( Twenty Years Hence for those not familiar with the Hindi language).

So, where are they headed? To me the writing is on the wall- or is it on the palm?

​Palmistry, anyone?​ Could be easier. Palm off your responsibility to someone or something else! Enough suckers around.

As for me, I am calling up my Mom(God Bless Her) to know more about the occult practice..you guessed it: Numerology!

Disclaimer: She is a retired Math teacher. And she has no interest in ‘hyperbole discounting‘.

And if you permit me a bit of Marketing 01(not even 101): ‘ Differentiation is not an intrinsic characteristic of a brand; differentiation is in the eye of the consumer ‘.

For all those swayed by the ‘ herd mentality ‘, this may never get heard. But, that being said, marketing is a serious responsibility. And there is no running away from that!

Mediocrity is never an accident,it’s by design,so,watch out!

“It’s lonely at the top. 99% of people are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most competitive.”

-Tim Ferriss

Ironical isn’t it that we are knowingly ultra competitive when we are striving for mediocrity. And, ironically, the fiercest competition is for the second-class prizes. And we still don’t get it!

It’s a long never ending tirade. Justifications that are shallow, hollow and mere escapism. I am referring to the reasons why we endorse and end up doing mediocre work. Let’s look at the usual suspects..

The brief was lousy..

I hardly had any time..

The customer does not value quality..

We never get the right price..

It’s a one way street, we are always the one being short changed..

Does it really matter? As nobody ever notices..

You are always critical..

This market never appreciates high quality..

The management will never understand..

I have always done it this way..

My boss is a jerk..

I don’t want to fail..I rather play safe..

Half hearted, half baked, short cuts, excuses. Period. Nothing else. They are all sad facades, masking the real issue. The outcome where sub optimal emotional labour is committed will always reflect a huge gap between what could have been and what is.

If you’re not willing to fail, you guarantee you’ll stay average-at-best.

If you want to grow into an extraordinary version of yourself, you must be willing to fail — a lot.

“Stay in your lane.” Focus on you. Learn all you can. Experiment, fail, discover what works.

When you see the 25 to 70% off ad screaming from every second billboard in town for every second brand, that is when you come to realise the often heard ‘ herd mentality ‘. Find safety in numbers. Conform, adhere, comply, fit in, exist, survive, get along, pass by. By design, the quest for supreme mediocrity(read comfort food) is perennial and offers perpetual succour. Or so it seems considering the seriousness with which it is latched onto. And there is no letting go.  And that, amongst a community of really bright minds who came into the profession with a clarion call to make their own little dents in the universe. And what are they managing to do- drive people away from the profession.

You have to decide to opt either for the wood or for the trees. Do you want to care enough to create something better? Introspect and the answer will be very close at hand.

Most people will stay in mediocrity.They’ll continue fighting with the majority for average, subpar prizes.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The road that leads to an incredibly exciting, fulfilling life is waiting for you. It’s free and open, and there are no crowds. And pay no heed to the ‘ wisdom of the crowds ‘ narrative- it’s just a more sophisticated coinage for finding solace in the average, the sub par, the mediocre.

You can either take a ‘ leap of faith ‘ or retire to a ‘ sleep of fate ‘. What got you here is not going to get you there. As Todd Henry so beautifully captured in his book ” Die Empty ‘- Unleash your best work every day. Practice the art of non-conformity! That’s what we preach and practice at ISD Global. And we get to do that every day. Gratitude!!

ENDS

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