Tag Archives: Advertising

Determined to be Disastrous?

Commonwealth Bank: “Anthem”, Agency: Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Director: Michael Bay

Major Questions: Why would you draw attention to the fact that an American company is doing your advertising? What is the message to consumers? Why should consumers care about this message?

I think the ad pretty much sucks. The “marketing team’s” response basically acknowledges that the advertisement doesn’t hit the mark. Was that the point; to create a really disastrous advertisement and then pay it out? And if so what does that communicate? Not much in my opinion.

Goodby Silverstein and Partners Creative Director and partner, Steve Simpson said “It is true that Americans are a convenient foil for all the excesses of modern marketing. It is really an advertising campaign about the artifices of advertising”.

Do bank consumers care that you are commenting on advertising? He also had to mention “User generated content” to his audience at the launch on Friday, 25th Jan:

“We live in an incredibly media navvy time, you know everyone is now a film maker – as we see on YouTube. User generated content is all the rage, because everyone has had an ad idea.”

However, the advertisement is a nice departure from the usual bank advertisement which continue to tell us that they truly value our business and they have exceptional service. Then you walk in the door and wait in line, or get charged for viewing your transaction history on the internet. I’ve even heard of one bank that charged a customer because they sneezed while withdrawing money from an ATM!

But to tell you the truth, I’m just sick of the banks (and other service providers) telling us they have exceptional service when THEY DON’T. For me, actions really do speak louder than words. In that sense, the Commonwealth Bank ad is a hell of a lot better than a lot of others, especially the latest from NAB which I despise.

The CommBank campaign will include viral components as well as outdoor, print, web and in-store advertising.

What do you think of the ad?

Facebook announces advertising strategy

Facebook recently disclosed it’s plans to monetise the company’s rapidly growing user base (around 30 million active users). Less than four years old, Facebook is worth around $15 billion (given the 1.6% share Microsoft bought for $240 million).

How it works:

Users can then sign up as “fans” of that brand and engage with it just like a regular friend. When the user interacts with a brand, their activities – mashed together with paid advertisements – show up on the user’s profile page and on their friends’ “News Feed” summary. (SMH)

Facebook […] will give advertisers the ability to create their own profile pages on its system that will let users identify themselves as fans of a product. So each user’s news feed will contain items like “Bobby Smith is now a fan of Toyota Prius,” or whatever. News feeds can be linked to outside Web sites as well. So you can tell your friends about what you rented at Blockbuster or are auctioning on eBay. (IHT)

Facebook user, Emily, comments:

I just don’t want to be pestered by companies trying to sell me crap I don’t need. I get enough of that as it is without bloody facebook getting in on the act. If I want a coke, I can get one. I use Microsoft every day at work. I know who Sony is. If I want their freakin’ products, I’ll contact them. In the mean time, they can leave me alone. (Mashup)

I am currently a Facebook user but I’m getting a little bored with it. Basically, Facebook is a more complex version of Jaiku. I use flickr to share photos, my favourite websites on Stumbleupon, my favourite videos on youTube and Revver – Jaiku puts them all together into one place. I would also rather use Instant Messenger and email to communicate with people so our conversations aren’t published for all my other friends to read.

I’m not going to become ‘friends’ with a brand on Facebook, some people might want to, but I feel like choosing to share your friendship with a brand, is a conscious effort to express an identity that doesn’t really exist and is therefore very inauthentic – in the Frankfurt School sense (did I use this reference correctly?).

Summary: If you are a university student in Australia with Motorola and Tsubi as Facebook friends, than you really are a try-hard and should be engaging in more worthwhile pursuits!

Vote for me! Democracy is dirty…

The documentary was called “Vote for me!” and was part of SBS’s week examining democracy, which they have called “Why Democracy?”.

And what did we see in this documentary? (If you watched the show, please comment; I hate talking to myself!) We saw Chinese children exploiting the weaknesses of the other candidates. We saw them canvassing their classmates for votes, and offering positions in exchange for votes (for example, ‘Deputy Monitor’ – clever!).

We saw parents writing speeches for their children and suggesting tactics for them to use – “Did he say he’d vote for you? Well, ask him in the debate who he is going to vote for, and if he says you, you can say he isn’t confident because he isn’t even going to vote for himself, and if he says himself, you can say that he is a liar because he told you that he’d vote for you.” We saw parents manipulating their children – “You can’t give up! You said you wanted to be President, and now you want to give up in the class monitor elections?!”

These children were eight and learning about democracy in a Chinese primary school. As I sat their, somewhat appalled, I couldn’t help but think how amazingly accurate this performance of democracy was. (Side Note: Australian election just 6? weeks away.)
So what is democracy? In my opinion, it’s about having a rigorous debate and then having an election where everyone gets an equal vote. We have this lovely, righteous view of democracy but it really isn’t all that pretty when you really step back and examine it.

In this election for classroom monitor, the kid with the rich parents ultimately won the race. Maybe he won because he exposed his friend as a decent, selfless liar or that he already had two years experience as prefect, or maybe it was the last minute sweetener!

Final thought on the documentary: my three arguments:

  • Democracy in Australia can be improved. Especially the donations to political parties which limit the ability for small parties to participate, and the outrageous spending on advertising.
  • If this is what children and teachers in China think that democracy is about – debates and name calling and conspiracy and strategy – maybe we need to work on that! Although I accept that these elements are present, democracy is really about the public debate (and the openness of that debate), that anyone can lead the country and that we all have an equal vote. On a side note, maybe my/our perception of socialism or utilitarianism is also somewhat un-reflective of the principles of those ideologies.
  • On a less serious level, maybe children shouldn’t be exposed to the nitty-gritty of democracy! Note to teachers: concentrate on the equal voting and positive campaigning (we want to know why you would be great at the job!).

A non-post

I haven’t blogged for over four weeks!

I just don’t feel like I have anything to say at the moment.

It is interesting how for the first six-months of this year I was really interested and willing to give some of my time to write on this blog, and then I just stopped. It is like something happens and you don’t have the same motivation to write about current issues and events. I mean I still think about the things I blogged about like religion, advertising, politics and media but I just don’t have the same drive to spend time writing my thoughts and opinions down.

Interesting phenomenon. It probably has a name like ‘blogging fatigue’, or something and has been studied down the minute detail.

Maybe I think my opinions don’t matter. If my blog is for me, and not for a wider audience, why should I publish my ideas rather than just think about them? Or, if my blog is for a wider audience, why write down my thoughts if I don’t know who is reading them and what they think about them? I have had only a few comments on my blog this year, is it really worth the effort for one comment. Where is the conversation, the dialogue?

Who really cares; I stopped blogging. One day I will start again.

Brand Community: an examination of loyalty, and the Cult of Mac.

It is a shared realisation among marketers that customer loyalty stems from purchase satisfaction, however in the current climate of ‘me-too’ products, sceptical consumers and media fragmentation, loyalty has become something more complicated to achieve. In this new century, the satisfaction-loyalty model may no longer be as relevant to explain the behaviour of consumers (McAlexander, Kim & Roberts, 2003). While there may be many ways to build customer loyalty, this essay will examine the notion of brand community to build long-term loyalty. A range of literature will be examined and an example will be used to further illustrate the theory of brand community. I will begin by defining the terms used and by looking at the traditional satisfaction-loyalty model.

> continue reading

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Joe Hockey is an idiot… (not personally > I don’t know him)

Joe Hockey was on Sunday this morning. He talked about Kevin Rudd and his regular appearance on Sunrise as well as the ‘outrageous’ amount of money the Labor Party will spend between now and the election in November.

Joe tried to suggest that Rudd’s appearances on Sunrise are no longer appropriate because he is the Opposition Leader. However he defended his own appearances. Why is it acceptable for a minister of Parliament to appear regularly on a light, entertaining morning show but not for the opposition leader?

He also suggested that the Labor party will spend around $100 million leading up to the election ($88 million from the unions and $12 million from the state Labor branches). This continues the governments attack on the Labor party for being ‘ruled by the union’s’. Meanwhile the Federal Government has been described as the biggest advertising spender in Australian political history – (see quote below from SHM – 2005).

“Crikey! Remember crocodile hunter Steve Irwin bobbing about on your TV screen a year or so back warning you not to bring any plants or animals into the country?

“You paid for that ad. Irwin received a $175,000 appearance fee for one day of filming, a recent Senate estimates committee revealed, and the Quarantine Matters campaign cost $5.3 million.

“Yet it was a comparatively cheap campaign for the Federal Government, which is the biggest advertising spender in Australian political history, and a significant player when compared with the corporate sector.

“Federal Government spending on advertising jumped by nearly $70 million last financial year [2004-05] to $170 million, according to Opposition figures released this week.” – Stephanie Peatling, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Mar 2005, p.19.

Joe said the government’s spending of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money is necessary to let people know about the policies they are putting forward. I tend to agree. However…

  1. the Constitution allows political parties to advertising as much as they like,
  2. the Labor party is spending about half the amount the government is spending (according to the quote above), and
  3. the Labor party isn’t spending taxpayers money > unlike taxpayers, a union member can choose to leave the union if they disagree with this use of their money.

Get over it Joe… Move on…

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Centophobia’s solution to childhood obesity in the western world…

Today the Sydney Morning Herald: Good Weekend magazine reports – Meal or Medicine?

SMH Article - Meal or Medicine?Source: SMH: Good Weekend –
Melissa Sweet, “Meal or Medicine?”, 17 Mar 2007

“Eating fish could prevent heart disease. Then again, it might not. It depends on who you listen to. With the media and marketplace awash with claims and counterclaims about the health benefits of food, it’s never been harder trying to work out what’s best to eat.”

The article suggests that consumers are confused about the health benefits and health risks of food. People have no idea what they should and shouldn’t be eating; what is improving their health and what could be potentially exposing them to disease and obesity. The article warns that this could get worse with Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) soon to allow companies to put a greater range of health claims on their products such as “may reduce the risk of bowl cancer” and “helps to prevent osteoporosis”. However other health organisations are worried that adding more health claims to products would further confuse the public and would also reduce the appeal of fresh fruits and vegetables which would be unable to use health claims because they are largely unpackaged

So what is the solution. One might say to increase regulation on health claims; to stop “Brunchtime Bars” from being labeled “high in fibre” or “low GI” or “may help protect against lymphoma”.

SMH - McDonald’s AdvertisementSMH advertisement for McDonald’s new ‘tick approved’ meals
“Tastes good. Better for you. Now you can feel better about enjoying the great taste of McDonald’s when you choose one of our nine Tick Approved Meals.”

I found it interesting that this McDonald’s advertisement was featured in Good Weekend just a few pages after this article. So here is a health claim for you: “Better for you.”. The copy suggests that these ‘tick approved’ meals contain 45% ‘less salt’ and are ‘virtually trans-fat free’. Yay.

Think of the fruit and vegetable section of Woolworths or Coles. The products are generic; you have no idea who grew it, how and where. You can’t choose products from suppliers who don’t use pesticides or from regions that produce superior quality because you have no way of distinguishing between products. What does a consumer know about the products they buy in the fresh fruit and vegetable section of their supermarket? Nothing…

How can mere – trans-fat free, salt free, preservative free, hormone free, vitamin and mineral enriched – fruits and vegetables compete. They don’t have packaging to carry ‘health claims’ nor do they have the marketing budget of McDonald’s to tell people how much “Better for you” they are.

The solution. Brand it all. Put a name on every last apple, orange and kiwifruit and every last pumpkin, onion and leek. Split the produce section of the supermarket up and sell it like shelf space. Consumer would have to choose between producers, and producers would have to advertise and differentiate. We would see advertising on television for this producer and that producer showing images of their farm and their fresher, healthier produce. Truly healthy food would suddenly have a voice in the marketplace. Apples would be marketed to kids as ‘action-packed’ and salad would be advertised to office workers as ‘light, quick and simple’. The sales of fruit and vegetables would rise and people around the country would drop a few kilograms.

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Coca-Cola launches “Mother”

The energy drink market is one beverage segment Coca-Cola is yet to dominate. This year however Coke will again try to capture the hearts and minds of a new group of consumers with the launch of Mother. Coke will reportedly spend over $10 million dollars marketing Mother as an all-natural energy drink to young men (Sydney Morning Herald).

The campaign includes three 30 second executions (Lemur [above], Turtoad and Monkeydog) featuring animated ‘Amazonian’ creatures.

In response to this challenge by Coca-Cola, V has reportedly upped its marketing budget, released a new product, and created a new advertisement (shown below). Red Bull has also increased its marketing budget but hasn’t yet broken away from its Red Bull Gives you Wings advertising and no doubt will continue to place heavy importance on extreme sport sponsorships.

The energy drink segment is definately a lucrative segment. It is “worth $151 million and is growing by 47 per cent a year. Energy is the fastest-growing category in soft drinks and account for 22 per cent of total drink sales …” Sydney Morning Herald. However Coca-Cola has a task on its hands with Red Bull and V already accounting for 94 per cent of total energy sales in convenience stores. ” Sydney Morning Herald. So, can three brands share the energy drink market?

In my opinion: with Coca-Cola’s distribution network, Mother will have every chance of success. V has already been removed from the QUT (university in Brisbane) cafeteria :( and replaced with Mother (in a special branded fridge). I have also seen supermarkets and petrol stations with dedicated, branded Mother refridgerators and other branded material. Consumers will therefore be encouraged to at least trial the product when there are no other “energy/caffeine” options available. As for the V energy drink advertising: I have heard both positive and negative reviews. I think the advertisement shows a brand forced to join the race, rather than remind. I don’t like it – too sex-centric, not that cleaver.

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Australia Post: Part of Every Day

Best ad of the week …This ad takes the generic Australia Post brand and brings it to life. The advertisement is understated and humorous which appeals to me. It communicates effectively that Australia Post is trustworthy and dependable; exactly what I want in a postal service. In my opinion, it has great production and music. And because the campaign consists of seven advertisements which are played on different days, the campaign has a long-life expectancy.

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Subway “New” advertisement tortures Australian Open viewers

Subway’s now old “New” advertisement has tortured many viewers as they tried to watch Seven’s coverage of the Australian Open.

The advertisement stars two people painting a sign which reads “New” and yet can’t think of the word in order to describe something fresh to have for lunch. The other actor (some American actor whom I don’t know the name of, nor care) shouts “New the word is new…”. By this time many viewers have changed the channel or hit the mute button and thus have no idea what the advertisement is actually about.

Let me think…

Get a NEW ad…

Get a NEW campaign… not one advertisement played over and over and over until everyone who ever considered buying your damn product no longer wants to…

Get a NEW Australian personality to star in your ads… someone that we actually know and care about…

Get a NEW media buyer… who realises fast food isn’t a low-involvement product, and in order to convince consumers to buy it you need advertisements which are fresh, new and emotive.

Get a NEW agency… perhaps one that is located in Australia and can tailor your advertising to the opinions and ideas of the local market… and one that doesn’t rely on repeating the word ‘new’ eighteen times in order to communicate that the product is in fact new…

An inspiring person plants a new idea.

I am a little frustrated with business core units at the moment. In order to get my degree I need to do eight subjects from diverse business areas like economics, accounting, business ethics, management, international business and quantitative analysis. This is a total of one year being used to study subjects – which apart from a broad understanding – I will never use.

It is frustrating because it takes away from my participation and extra concentration on subjects that I actually enjoy and would persue as a career option, such as virtual culture, media technologies and advertising strategy.

Anyway I was talking to a student I am doing group work with who is so enthusiastic about university and about her future career. She told me that she really just stopped one day and realised that she wasn't enjoying what she was doing and decided to stop. She went overseas and travelled around and was exposed to a number of different things but looked inside to really discover what would inspire her everyday. Then she did it.

I – always making excuses – replied 'Yeah, I just need some money to go exploring' and she said, well start saving and in a couple of months do it. I have always thought of money as something to save. I have money in the bank just waiting for what; I don't know.

So the plan is; spend it. Force myself to get a job when I become poor (I'm not working at the moment because I don't really know why I would) and probably be a lot happier now rather than waiting to be happier in the future.

Companies are ‘monitoring’ this blog right now.

Did you know that companies are ‘monitoring’ blogs and messageboards to determine people’s opinions about brands and advertising campaigns?

Computers are used to “peruse” millions of blogs and messageboards and measure the amount of “chatter” or “buzz” present in the “blogosphere“. Natural Language Processing is used to analyse the language used in posts, to estimate the demographic information of the author (including their age and gender, and maybe even their ethnicity) (Morrissey, 2005) and determine if the “chatter” is negative or positive.

Umbria Communications and BuzzMetrics [now Nielson BuzzMetrics] are two companies that currently gather and analyse online chatter. Umbria’s Buzz Report, analyses content from 16 million blogs, message boards, opinion sites and other public forums (Umbria Inc., 2005). The BuzzMetrics’ Discussion Miner scours blogs, community websites, listservs and Usenet newsgroups and, according to the company website, is able to “track particular users over time” (BuzzMetrics, 2005), or more accurately track particluar user’s opinions over time.

Unlike traditional market research, this form of research does not require participants to give approval for the use of their opinions and comments because blogs are publicly published. However, as Godes and Mayzlin (2004, p.26) point out, the participation of consumers in online communities is “undoubtedly made without the consideration that firms may be observing these conversations and drawing inferences from them”. These technologies may especially cause concern for consumers who consider blogs to be personal online diaries, and use messageboards to provide personal comments.

Some ‘bloggers’ who have discovered the use of these measurement techniques have used their blogs to discuss the topic. One such blog, called Pop Occulture Blog (2005), contains posts which describe this technology as ‘amazing’ and ‘fascinating’, as well as questionable. Jonathan Carson, president and CEO of BuzzMetrics, also took part in the blog. He suggests that the company is helping marketers engage in conversation-based relationships with customers (rather than disseminating information to them) by helping marketers listen to consumers more effectively.

Which means, no doubt, that the companies mentioned have read what I have written about them (and if so I did try to be accurate and neutral).

What do you think? Please comment.

References/More Information:

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This article first appeared at the M/Cyclopedia of New Media.