27 May 2010

Greenpeace 1, Nestle 0

Greenpeace ran a campaign against Nestle. The maker of KitKat was apparently buying palm oil from companies that were clearing rainforests in Indonesia, the natural habitat of countless flora and fauna (including the Orang-utan).

They made a video - first posted on YouTube - and when Nestle had Google pull the plug, re-uploaded on Vimeo. (It's back on YouTube now.) It was seen by over 1.5 million people. Greenpeace says over 200,000 emails were sent to Nestle. Greenpeace activists 'dropped-in' on a Nestle AGM; erected a 'Twitter wall' displaying tweets to Nestle employees, and swarmed Nestle's Facebook page with comment.

Greenpeace won.

But I don't think Nestle lost... they just wised-up.

This video is what started it.

Recently, one friend blogged and tweeted - albeit, on a rather more modest scale - but finally managed to make a stodgy State Government in India sit up and take notice of his legitimate grievance. And another friend took up the cudgels against Boeing on behalf of a spurned 8-year old - and helped get an apology!

Is this all a portent of how Social Media can give anyone with Internet access a voice - and a powerful one at that? Or are they examples of well-framed and well-placed communication campaigns? Or is it the age-old advantage of being part of the right social network?

And while it is indeed nice that the Utopian Social Media gives the 'little guy' a voice, let us not forget that sooner or later, someone will learn to manipulate the system. They always do. Think 'botnets' and 'email spam': Over 90% of ALL email is spam and about 80% of that is sent by hacked zombie computers. So how do we know when that happens to Social Media? Because I just know it will.

But till then I'm all for Social Media activism setting things right when someone steps over the line.

Oh! By the way, Greenpeace has fired one over the bow of HSBC for its investment in companies that are involved in deforestation. Watch that space...

25 May 2010

Now download a copywriter and art director

I came across news about a software called PlaceLocal that - ahem, creates ads.

Apparently, "All you have to put in is the company name and address”, and PlaceLocal takes over. The programme automatically scours the Internet for references to the company - picking up basic like a logo, telephone number, business hours, maps and directions, reviews on local blogs, website content, and even photographs. And in moments, all this in laid-out into a customised online display ad. Seriously.

PlaceLocal's key benefit is for web publishers looking to add local businesses as advertisers. It cuts the time and effort taken for a person to actually go through the same process.

PlaceLocal has been created by PaperG, an advertising technology company in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Could this be the beginning of the end of humans doing cliched advertising? You wish.

Your client won't tell you this

Some time back I'd posted on the 2010 NEW BUSINESS REPORT: A CLIENT’S PERSPECTIVE ON AGENCIES by RSW/US - a survey of 227 key decision-makers in Marketing which revealed the most important factors on which they evaluate ad agencies in a presentation:
1. Understanding of their company's direction
2. Understanding of their market
3. Creatives presented

In that order... at 69%, 68% and 66%, respectively.

Now there's another report out. The 2010 report on Perspectives from Senior Marketing Executives by the Gerson Lehrman Group Councils (Get the full report here.)

Not surprisingly, this survey of over 80 senior marketing executives, throws up similar findings:
- 79% said they decided against hiring an agency because of issues related to the agency’s understanding of their business, market, or how they could add value to that business
- 91% listed the above three factors as the most important components for making a decision about engaging a particular agency.

Besides this... 88% categorised understanding of their business and industry as 'critically important' or 'very important', compared to less than 70% who said the same for their product!

It is obvious what Marketers are saying. "I want my Ad Agency to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the industry I operate in, and also to understand the longterm strategic interests of my business."

It's equally obvious what they are not saying out loud. "Tell me how I can succeed." Clients are looking for a confident and proactive partner. They want good advice.

So tell me again... What has changed in Advertising?

24 May 2010

Talent: Use it or Lose it

A lovely post on lettersofnote.com

"Still feeling the strain following his hugely successful solo album debut three years previous, George Michael told the LA Times' Calendar Magazine in September of 1990 that he would be shunning the limelight prior to, and during, the decidedly low-key release of his new album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1; specifically there were to be very few interviews, no promotional music videos, and no tour. Many fans were understandably displeased with his approach, but the reaction of one person in particular will forever stand out.

The text of the following letter - written by Mr. Frank Sinatra - appeared in the same magazine the next week."

I've just realised (again) that there are no bad agencies, no bad accounts/brands, no bad clients, and no bad work. There are just agencies, accounts/brands, clients and work. 'Good' and 'bad' are what we make out of it.

Thanks Frank.

21 May 2010

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners on how to walk the talk

There a bit of buzz around the ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners picking up the entire Chevy account worth about $650 million and change.

Sure, these guys have much to be proud of - but I think their strongest asset has got to be their genuineness. You can see huge dollops of it in the following presentation, called AGENCY EVOLUTION: 17 THINGS THAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT TRYING TO EVOLVE AN AGENCY by Derek Robson, Managing Partner at GSP. It's about how GSP transformed itself from a very successful traditional ad agency into a sensationally successful advertising, media and interactive agency!


13 May 2010

Made in Hometown

When your brand really and truly has a point-of-view, don't be content to just let it show. I say, flaunt it in broad daylight - in all its glory. Show it off in public for all to see!

After all, what's to not like about an attitude? It's human, as long as it is genuine.

Here's how it's done American Apparel-style...

(Please click the image to read the copy. No really, read the body copy. Go on, I promise it won't hurt.)

Here's a more sly video by New Balance shoes on the same subject. The defensive tone of the 'Made in USA' theme here, is because the message comes with a caveat: New Balance shoes are also Made in China, Vietnam and the UK.

I imagine we will be seeing a lot more of these 'Buy Local' advertising in the coming days, primarily as a backlash against brands that seem to care more about cost-cutting than people.

Patriotic fervor can be quite unpredictable, and the current trend has the potential to grow exponentially. When community-after-community start circling their wagons, it'll stop being a trend, and become more of a wave. A tidal one.

9 May 2010

How to stop splitting hair and get on with Advertising

I'm simply tired of listening to the Social Media vs. Traditonal Advertising argument! There are very valid points (and counter-points) on both side, although momentum is definitely moving with digital tools.

But the conventional Advertising mindset is still too pervasive and powerful. So we're just going to have to live with it. I believe Advertising and Marketing professionals who understand users' POV better will have more success that those stuck on either side of the great Media Divide.

In fact, just look who else is having a go at the unsuspecting online audience with good 'ol "interactive" banner ads: Check out Microsoft Advertising.

This is a presentation David Cushman, Managing Director at Ninety10group.com, London.

I don't think that his statement: 'The death of advertising' is even remotely true. But I agree strongly with his has suggestion of replacing 'one-way messages and large audiences' with 'focused engagement and actual users and customers'.

Another pillar of democracy proves hollow

In case you didn't already know, integrity has a (surprisingly low) price in the venerable fourth estate in India. Read about in this article in The New York Times.

Honestly, just who can you trust now?

8 May 2010

More deft footwork

Asics' "What's a Left without a Right" campaign amplified via the blogging community. Nice global treasure hunt!

Converse-ly speaking

Now here's a simple, yet brilliant digital idea by Converse. (And it's cheap to boot!) Granted there's a surfeit of references to "culture"; and they give no figures. But I'd like to think there is a trend in this somewhere.

(Best seen full screen.)

2 May 2010

An eloquent Indian politician, imagine that

The concept of Indian-ness is, perhaps more philosophical than geographical. It the endless capacity of India culture to absorb ideas and 'Indian-ise' them that is its greatest strength.

As long as there are ideas, there will be India. And as long as there is India, my guess is, there will be new ideas.

The Story of India, a TV series by the BBC featuring the historian, Michael Wood, gives a fairly lucid account of the last 10,000 years of the Indian subcontinent's history.

Simple words of wisdom

Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, gave this famous speech at the Stanford University's 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005.

Like most of his life's work, his speech is profound in it's simplicity:
1. Follow your heart wherever it takes you. The 'dots' will eventually connect.
2. Find what you love. Only then will doing it bring you satisfaction.
3. Your time is short. Don't waste it living someone else's life.

1 May 2010

If you are prone to seizures, look away now

This is the opening credits segment for Gaspar Noé's film, Enter The Void.


Greenpeace vs. GM Food Bill

The indomitable folk over at Greenpeace India are taking a stand, again, on behalf of a billion armchair cynics like me... So I did my two-cents' worth and sent an email in support. You can too at http://greenpeace.in/safefood/chavan-email/

According to the Greenpeace website, "[...]Science and Technology minister, Prithviraj Chavan is trying to change the rules of the game.

Mr. Chavan pushed for Bt Brinjal in a letter he copied word for word from a study funded by biotech seed companies, including Monsanto. He is presenting an undemocratic GM bill to ease the legalisation of Bt Brinjal, rice, and more—without any public input. Mr. Chavan is supposed to serve the people of India. Instead, he’s serving the interests of biotech seed corporations."

To draw attention to the issue, Greenpeace volunteers demand the 'citizens arrest' of Science and Technology minister, Prithviraj Chavan "for trying to force the GM Food Bill (Biotech Regulatory Authority bill 2009) down the throats of Indian citizens."

Thank you, people.