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Drama in the workplace

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NetflixNetflix is the number 1 reason I don’t get enough exercise. Mainly because being a sucker for a good story (current obsession: The Good Wife) means that I find it hard not to click ‘Watch Next Episode’ as soon as the credits roll…

But although I may not be getting fitter I do feel like I’m learning stuff.  Thanks to ‘Lie To Me’ I can spot an untruth from a mile away. ‘House of Cards’ and ‘The West Wing’ are the only reason I know anything at all about American Politics.  And after only a couple of episodes of the Killing I think, quite wrongly as it turns out, I can understand Swedish.

That’s because mingled in with the great scripts and acting performances are lots of other subtle, messages.  Messages about different cultures, though process, and procedures, and in walks of life that I just wouldn’t be exposed too any other way.   And that’s the great thing about quality drama, the writers do the all the hard work for you.  Dripping tons of research seamlessly into each episode to make what you’re watching believable.

It’s why quality writing works wonders in a business setting too.  A serialised drama or comedy is going to beat a PowerPoint every time when it comes to getting staff to retain information.  If there’s a vivid premise, relatable characters and a bit of action you’ll find staff anticipating the next instalment of their training programme.   Storytelling is a powerful way of uniting information with emotion, and in doing so engaging with your staff.  But it demands insight and creativity to present an idea with enough punch to be memorable. If you get it right, then you get people discussing your messaging at the water cooler instead of unconsciously ignoring you.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to watch the next season of Game of Thrones.

Product marketing with a wee bit of comedy…

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You may have stumbled across this online advert, Just a Wee, for the Bathstore last month.  It marked a bit of a departure from the brands usual lifestyle videos and made a pretty good stab at going viral by using a mix of eye watering slapstick and a comedy set up.

The aim was to promote its range of soft-close toilet seats, and well there’s a man who wishes he had one when he was a child, a confused girlfriend and a dog that… well it’s probably best you just watch it for yourself.

With 220k hits in the first 2 days rising to just over 751k in a month it has had its fair share of exposure – especially when you remember that it’s a toilet seat we’re talking about not the latest must have gadget.  Where it gets interesting is when you look at the response that it’s had on YouTube.  Although it’s had a lot more thumbs up that thumbs down, a quick glance down the comment section reveals an almost a 50/50 split amongst posters, ranging from the positive -

 

“Awsome ad. I’m glad to see marketers are getting their sense of humour back!”

Shawn Benson 

“The first pre-roll advert I actually wanted to share! Well done”

Bellyfloptv

 

To the positively offended,

 

“Whoever signed off this viral ad should be taken to task, it really is stooping to a new low just to sell product. what will it be next, the Power Shower foofoo cleaner? – Please, stick to adverts which have a bit of class – unless of course you have changed the demographic of your target market?”

Ian Holmes

And that Ian, really is a very good question.  Does altering your marketing output simply swap one audience for another? Personally I’d argue that doing something a bit different, and showing a sense of humour is something that should be applauded.  It exposes the Bath store brand to a new audience and gets blogs like this one written to help spread the word.   Whether all that activity equates to sales though is something I look forward to seeing once the campaign results are in.

Is your company ready for Employee Generated Content?

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Employee Generated ContentFirst things first, what exactly is Employee Generated Content or ECG? In case you’re not immediately familiar with the term ECG simply means anything produced and shared through an organisation by internal staff members themselves. So things like a company newsletter, video blogs, company wiki page, even a full on musical about the dangers of parking in the CEOs space they all count, as long as the staff are the driving force behind the content.

Why Should This Matter To Me?

If you subscribe to the adage that people are a company’s biggest asset, then allowing them to use their knowledge, wit and personality to help further your businesses aims has got to be a no brainer. Employee-generated content has been used to great effect by some of the world’s biggest companies – as everything from external marketing campaigns to internal training and team building. That’s not to say that those companies didn’t recruit a creative agency along the way to help shape and focus the campaigns, but it does show that the resources and creativity of your own people shouldn’t be underestimated.

To help you work out if your business might just be ready to consider EGC why not try the checklist? The more yeses you get the more you might want to start thinking about it…

•  Are your employees experts in your business?
•  Can your employees provide a unique insight into your products and services?
•  Are you looking to increase employee retention, work ethic or morale?
•  Are there some current best practices you’d like help propagating through the company?
•  Are you looking for a new way to connect management to the wider base of employees?
•  Do you have a company that operates over many different regions?
•  If so do your staff have different experiences and innovative solutions which may inspire others elsewhere in the organisation?

We’ll be thinking, writing and generally the strategising the heck out of employee generated content over the coming months so let us know if there’s a specific subject you’d like us to go into more detail about.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like the Christmas Ad – 5 Online Treats You Might Have Missed

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Blood Drive SantaAh, Christmas, that most magical time of year when treetops glisten, children listen and companies vie to outdo each other with their seasonal offering.   From the love it or hate it ‘Do bears really need alarm clocks?’ John Lewis animation to the ‘Hug a Huggie’ Boots film or even the poor Santa brainwashed into selling sofas on the DFS ad there’s something for everyone.

But it’s not just about glitzy TV ads.  There’s some cracking online and experiential work being produced this year and as it wouldn’t really be Christmas without a festive round-up here’s some of our favourites!

WestJet Christmas Miracle

Melting hearts across the twittersphere here’s what happened when Canadian Airline WestJet turned their airport into a Santa’s Workshop.

 

Coca Cola and the Christmas Jumper

With the Christmas jumper ruling the shops this year Coke certainly recognise a zeitgeist when they see one.  Their new site allows you to make your own perfect woollen creation.  Get designing!

www.sweatergenerator.com

 

Give Blood – This Year’s Must Have Gift

Alongside this moving campaign to remind people that the greatest gift they might give a child this year is Blood, the NHS also pulled of rather a pleasing stunt at their Oxford Street Donation centre.  A line of Santa’s dressed in traditional red suits were seen going into the building only to come out looking much whiter!

 

The Greatest Story Ever Told – Twist and Shout

Have you ever wondered how social media would impact the greatest story ever told? Twist and Shout’s Christmas Viral calls the security of the traditional Nativity into question.

 

Buy Dad a pair of Socks He’ll Actually Wear This Year! – Universal Multigrip

As we made this one we might well be accused of favouritism for including it here, but we loved getting to make something so fun and festive for our client so no apologies from us!

Full version 

Short version 

What have we missed? Tell us about your favourite Christmas videos and campaigns below!

7 Seconds Away: The Rise of Short Form Video

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Short form content appears to be the next “next big thing”, at least until the good folks at Google find a way to plant ads directly into our frontal lobes. With that Social Video looks like it might finally be coming of age.

Since Instagram joined the short form video content party, people have been asking if this will have an effect on traditional video advertising. The short answer is no. These are both new(ish) channels and they’ll have no more of an effect on standard video advertising content than LOL Cats had on full page ads in Vogue.

What this does mean for marketers is that brands are going to have to get better at using short form narrative. There are some great examples of brands using Vine (we particularly like Urban Outfitters) but many are still scrabbling around trying to see how it fits into their overall marketing strategy.

The simple fact is it can’t be treated as a sub-channel, with shortened versions of “long form” adverts being cascaded down. Short form video creates a new dynamic and therefore (unsurprisingly) we yet again need to think differently about how we approach it to attract and engage users.

Principally brands need a very strong reason to get involved in these channels. 15 and 7 second “buy my product” videos aren’t going to cut it, not if brands want to be relevant in the space. Instead it’s going to be a long term investment and strategy that are going to win out. Check out http://brandsonvine.com/ for some interesting ways brands are using Vine. As for Instagram, I guess we’ll see an influx of brands utilising all 15 seconds very soon.

Hang On, I Think This Might Go Viral In A Minute

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Dandelion-ImageYes, there are absolutely exceptions and yes, you should definitely aim high and shoot for the moon, but at the same time you need to be realistic and not convince yourself it’s the end of the world when you land unceremoniously on next doors lawn. Especially, if it’s a nice lawn.

People see big businesses creating virals alongside user generated content of kids biting other kids fingers, or cats pretending to be ninjas and think there must be some secret formula, but their really isn’t.

Simple fact is seeding is absolutely key when it comes to launching a brand viral. It’s all about platform, and the vast majority of businesses don’t have a big enough platform or budget to go globally viral.

Those that are neither unusual user generated content nor big brand virals occupy an exceptionally narrow corridor. There’s some luck and some serendipity to it and absolutely it helps if you have an idea that spreads, but there are plenty of potentially great virals out there that never made it. And there are a lot of disappointed people that expected them to.

We’ve convinced ourselves that ‘going viral’ is about people talking about your film or idea from Watford Gap Services all the way to South of the Mekong Delta. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Instead, ‘going viral’ can take place within a small target audience, specialist group or community. If your client base is 300 CIO’s or 10,000 one legged Hungarian Pole Dancers, then ‘going viral’ just means getting it to spread within the confines of those groups. If it moves outside of them, great, but it’s not the be all and end all. Think in terms of a cold spreading around a nursery and not a global flu pandemic. After all, if every would be viral launched spread globally, we’d get pretty sick of them.

Location, Location, Lighthouse?

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A case study by the sea

A case study by the sea

97.265%* of all the case studies we’ve ever been shown are filmed in an office.  But surely the point of making a video is to show off the company’s uniqueness, either through building the brand or demoing new products or a way of thinking?   So what’s with this stunning lack of variety?  Well the upside of course is that company offices are a snap to organise, what with being quite literally on the organisation’s doorstep.  That’s great, especially for quick turnaround projects.  However the downside to all that convenience is that the end result will look just like every other case study that your company has ever made.

Just because you’re creating video for business it doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same old tried and tested locations when you come to shoot it.  With a bit of imagination and just a tiny bit more effort you could end up with something really quite special.

Here’s in no particular order are a few of our favourite alternative locations, let us know if we’ve missed any,

  1. A Coffee Shop
  2. Innovation Centre
  3. Sports Stadium
  4. Library
  5. The Zoo
  6. An Art Gallery
  7. Fruit Market
  8. The Seaside
  9. Historic House
  10. A Disused Church
  11. Cave
  12. Rooftop
  13. The London Eye
  14. The back of a Limousine
  15. A Park
  16. Your customers premises
  17. A theatre/film set
  18. Concert hall/recording studio
  19. A maze
  20. A chocolate shop
  21. Lighthouse

So next times you get the opportunity to shout about your company why not try thinking outside the boardroom?

(*Made up stat but it’s a really is almost all of them.)

 

Sweating Your Marketing Assets

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Let’s face it, times is tough. Austerity stares us down like we’ve accidentally spilt it’s pint inside one of ‘Britain’s Toughest Boozers’ and the pressure is on to maximise every piece of marketing collateral. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. To quote Bob the Builder “reduce, reuse & recycle”. So once it’s finished being a brochure, why not reuse it as an elegant brooch or perhaps an attractive new hat?

It’s easy to spend money on content for a specific channel and it to be used in isolation and then die (don’t worry folks, marketing content doesn’t just die, it goes to marketing heaven! Unless of course if it’s been bad marketing content…). That content doesn’t have to stop there though.

Say for instance, you’ve just created a lovely new animation.  Hi-Res stills can be rendered out to create a postcard teaser campaign and icons can be created from elements of the animation and built into presentations and websites. Segments of the animation can be slightly repurposed to help bring a presentation to life and frankly, you’ll probably want to write some blog posts about some of the issues touched upon in the animation. A bit like they do at the end of EastEnders, but probably infinitely less gritty.

And as for the original animation itself, well it doesn’t just need to sit squirreled away on the company website deep down at the bottom of an article on the specific service or product it represents. It should be placed on the YouTube channel, used at exhibitions, presentations & sales meetings.

Further still you can get it translated into a range of different languages for just a fraction of the price you paid for the original, meaning the sales teams across EMEA, APAC, the Americas and Telford can use it to it’s maximum effectiveness.

Essentially just because you’ve had something created for a specific purpose doesn’t mean it’s remit can’t be expanded. In this climate it’d be criminal not to.

Digital Adverts Ruined My Life (Well, Kind Of)

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The irritating issue of pop-ups & website takeovers is not exactly a new one. But neither is it changing particularly quickly either.  You’d think with all the new technological developments at today’s saavy marketeers disposal we’d have reached some sort of customer experience nirvana by now. Instead we’ve just added even louder bells and whistles until we’re screaming for the user’s attention like Brian Blessed and the the Go Compare guy sharing a joke. This doesn’t solve the problem of Banner Blindness though. We’re not wearing customers down until they can’t resist buying anymore. People weren’t sitting there thinking, “if only that banner ad had evolved to fill my entire browser, THEN I’d know they cared enough to give their product a shot.”

Stopping people from doing what they wanted to do doesn’t endear you to them. If anything both the advertiser and the site lose out.  If I’m going to have to sit through your difficult to close full-page “fully interactive” ad, I’m not going to be in a rush to repeat the experience by coming back again.

Fundamentally the issue is when you advertise on TV, you don’t miss a programme when an advert starts.  The programme pauses and you’ll probably nip to the loo or make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee, hey I don’t judge). When you’re visiting a site, however, this is exactly what’s happening. I’ve barely had a chance to read more than a couple of words and up pops that ridiculous advert flashing and blinking at me like an epileptic arcade machine at a rave AND GETTING IN THE WAY OF THE THING I’M TRYING TO READ.

It can be an even worse experience on mobile devices. Blanket popovers both whilst mobile browsing (For the last time I don’t want to download your free sister app!) and in free apps (it’s not as good as the site…) pounce on your retinas with all the grace of a drunken cat. And can you hit the tiny nano-size ‘X’ to close them without ‘activating’ the ad? Can you hell.  Who’d have thought that when we got such a small screen that rather than creating simple, intuitive and unique advertising experiences, we’d create something worse than web browser pop-ups?

If I was reading *insert your own favourite book in here* I don’t expect to have to stop every 3 pages to tear an ad off from in front of the page I’m trying to read. You want to monetise your site, fine, just don’t do it by ruining my experience. Go make a native ad or build a crappy paywall or something.

 

I Just Shipped My Pants! – Kmart’s ad goes viral

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That’s SHIPPED my pants people, SHIPPED.

US giant Kmart’s latest online ad ‘I just Shipped My Pants’ has gone viral with over 12.5 million hits in 8 days.  And no wonder.  The ad is hilarious, well executed and ever so slightly shocking.

Buoyed by their success and some fantastic You Tube comments such as;

“Good job advertising this Kmart. You’re back in the game.”

And

“This is a great commercial, it makes me like Kmart again!”

Kmart is now planning to reach an even wider audience by launching the ad on TV.  But could the very thing that’s made it popular, it’s funny and irreverent styling, actual end up polarising Kmart’s customer base?

It’s certainly not a strategy without risk and we’ll be eagerly waiting to see what Middle America makes of it all.  And of course whether it has the desired effect of getting Kmart’s tills ringing.

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