Category Archives: Digital media

When adverts go viral for the wrong reasons

hyundai-advert-screen-captureHyundai ‘Pipe Job’ advert widely criticised

There have many cases of misguided or blatantly wrong marketing campaigns in recent times, especially when it comes to advertisements and social media. Examples include the Ford Figo advert in India or the Haribo Super Mix advert, that either garnered angry comments or were panned across all social networks.

Hyundai is the latest brand to fall victim to a rather poorly thought-out campaign creative, after a video advertisement for their new ix35 model was widely criticised. The reason? The video titled “Pipe Job” features a man (unsuccessfully) attempting to commit suicide by inhaling car exhaust fumes from his ix35. You will no longer find the video on YouTube or other mainstream video streaming sites, as supposed claims of  third party infringements have led to it being taken down.

However, if you feel strong enough and have not had the deeply regrettable impact of suffering from a loved one’s loss by way of suicide, you can click here to find a locally hosted video on a blog post by a specialist in Mental Health, Dr. John Grohol, CEO and founder of Psych Central.

The resulting social media storm is understandable and expected when you’re dealing with a sensitive topic such as a human life. So much so that an open letter by Holly Brockwell, a London-based digital copywriter, aimed at Hyundai and its agency Innocean has been widely circulated (read it here) and adds fuel to the fire of this unfortunate advertisement.

Hyundai Europe has since issued an apology, but the deed is done and the impact of this story will seep though public conscientiousness, wiping out any good sentiment the brand might have had in recent years.

What are the lessons to be learnt? Quite a few:

  1. You may have a good product to market, but the wrong execution and creative will drive away an potential for connecting with consumers, resulting in failure for the brand and the product. GoCompare and Wonga are two examples of brands backtracking on campaign creative that have become a source of irritation for the general public.
  2. Understanding what the campaign creative is meant to make people feel is key to effective communication of brand values. If it’s not funny, not insightful, simply uninteresting or doesn’t add anything positive to the audience’s life then you seriously need to think about going back to the drawing board.
  3. Rethink your strategy so that you and your brand partners effectively know what you plan to achieve with your campaign. Making light of suicide is clearly not the way to go.
  4. Agencies are now outputting more and more content that doesn’t necessarily work in their client’s interests. It’s so easy to push out quantity as opposed to quality, so put in place exacting standards and procedures throughout the planning, creative and sign-off process to avoid disasters.

What are your view on this story? Are brands and agencies becoming more reckless with their marketing efforts? All comments are welcome.

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Windows versus Goliaths: targeting a rival’s immersed audience

Internet Explorer is eyeing the children of the 90s, a very well informed audience immersed in the environments of very strong competitors

With the launch of their Surface tablets, Windows Phone and the Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft is trying very hard to recapture a audience that is no longer tied down to a stationary web browsing experience.

After stalling with the insistence on the decrepit Symbian system, this technology giant is finally making some progress in the world of mobile experiences. Microsoft are, however, climbing a very steep hill to recapture an audience that has long abandoned their flagship products in the ‘post-PC’ digital world.

With the above advert, Microsoft are trying to entice consumers of a specific demographic to try out their new Internet Explorer. Now I would say that the large majority of their target audience is already deeply immersed in their Android or iOS smartphone, so creating an advert for what is basically a ‘small fish swimming in a large pond’ is not necessarily going to make many people jump on the Surface/Windows 8 bandwagon.

The digital consumer is one constantly connected via smartphones, tablets, laptops and, to a lesser extent, desktops. As we all know, they’re doing so largely within the iOS and Android systems and with apps that provide a multitude of consumer experiences and choices.

Cross-platform is the way forward

Browsing habits have fundamentally changed and consumers are either using apps to access their digital world, connecting via social networks or using OS integrated search functions to find what they need online. In some cases, we’re talking about the standard browsers that ship with the Android or iOS platforms, or, in other cases, options that have become popular like Chrome or Dolphin Browser, that both have the added advantage of being cross-platform.

It will take more than one app, no matter how good it is, for any of the consumers this advert is targeting to choose Windows 8 over the countless advantages that Android and iOS offer. What Microsoft seems to be disregarding is that their target audience is way too clued up on what digital solutions would work for them to take any type of action based on this type of advert alone.

Microsoft risks further irrelevance if they don’t continue to create a platform with enough solutions and apps that would entice consumers looking for a different option. Until wildly popular apps like Instagram or Tumblr are available on the Windows Phone 8, marketing Internet Explorer will not work, no matter how good the advert is.

Would it be a better strategy to finally act like most other software providers and offer the Internet Explorer as an app on competing systems? This would of course mean that Microsoft is conceding defeat in trying to make their Windows OS relevant. Sooner rather than later, we will see if this pride and insistence on walling off their apps and solutions to their own operating system will pay off. I tend to think no. What about you?

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Relevancy is not enough!

Why brands should give consumers what they want, how and when they need it.

The above screen grab is from an appeal that Maura Johnston made yesterday evening on her Twitter account. Whichever site she was clicking on, her frustrating customer journey simply illustrates what some marketers and publishers have failed to grasp: relevancy is key to what people want in media.

Since its origins in publishing, content marketing has become one of the latest buzzwords in marketing. Google has recognised the importance of the relevancy of content in their latest search algorithm updates, as have so many other parts of the PR, marketing and retail industries.

Social media has had a great deal of influence in this growing tendency due to its capacity to allow family and friends to efficiently share the latest products, videos, news and entertainment with their network. The keyword here is efficiency, as time-hungry consumers dislike jumping hurdles when trying to get what they want.

Relevancy in content

There’s no secret to what used to make print publishing so successful, as at the core of all successful publishing products we will find relevancy of content. Publishers (should) know their target market inside out and so the content they produce ought to meet the reader’s expectations.

In the past, all this was relatively simple as it all came together in one channel, the printed magazine or newspaper. However, as we all know too well, the multitude of communication channels has piled much pressure on publishers and marketers to reach their audience by way of different platforms, each with their particular costs, challenges, etiquette and limitations.

Efficiency in the user journey

What marketers and publishers should not forget is that relevant content alone is not enough to satisfy consumers. A simple and straightforward route to access it is key to ensuring the content reaches them and serves its purpose. Otherwise, we are just wasting time and money in creating good content only to have customer journeys that frustrate the target audience, especially when venturing into the digital arena. You might have a very engaging video about your brand or product to excite consumers, but making them download an app to be able to see it is a one-way ticket to a negative customer experience.

This is all the more important in a world that is increasingly mobile. According to Google research, 72% of consumers want mobile-friendly sites (see study here), so if you’re looking to go digital with your content, make sure that it’s tailored to being accessed on mobile devices, especially smartphones and tablets. Although use of apps to showcase content is on the rise, more and more brands and their agencies are realising that a good mobile-friendly website is just as efficient in achieving campaign objectives, hereby sidetracking the many challenges of an app-centred content marketing plan.

This does not mean that every single website should load, by default, in mobile-friendly format when a consumer arrives at it. Some people with large screen smartphones and on tablets are more than happy to access websites in their “full fat” version. What’s important is give the consumer the preference and not dictate it. The consumer knows what (s)he wants. All you should do is be there to provide it how and when they want it.

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Digital spurring on print advertising

I know I’m overstating the obvious, but marketing and publishing work best when an effective mix of digital and offline messages come together so that the reader/viewer will undertake a desired action and convert to a brand advocate or consumer.

In the publishing arena, the pressure is much more evident due to the progressive decline in advertising revenues. For the foreseeable future, publishers will continue to work on a set of solutions to counteract this spiral, as online revenue is yet to plug the hole of cutbacks on print spend.

The answer certainly lies within mobile media and marketing. The iPad, along with other tablets and some of the more powerful smartphones, are the perfect vehicles to bridge the gap, as they are usually within arm’s reach of someone reading a magazine or newspaper.

A new campaign by Lexus to promote their 2013 ES model is just such an example and certainly a step in the right direction of printed material generating an engaging digital experience. By using a technology called CinePrint, Lexus has created a digital experience that only works effectively when tied to a printed product. The technology can be tried in the October issue of Sports Illustrated.

It would be interesting to see if Lexus plan on rolling out the idea to more magazines that have an iPad edition and that are read by their target audience. I also reckon that the next step should be to globalise the campaign, as not all consumers have easy access to the printed Sports Illustrated.

Here is the YouTube preview of how it works:

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Digital content and the end of boundaries

Smart launches car with inbuilt cinema projector

The revolution that the Apple brought about with the launch of the iPhone, and subsequently the iPad, has changed the way that content is consumed by society. This radical shift has caught out many industries, with publishers, high street retailers and other more traditional content or product providers having to adapt or die.

We now need to see how other technologies can advance in the same direction, by providing people what they want, when they want it and, increasingly, wherever they want it. Internet and social networks has brought about the end of boundaries for information, so it’s only natural that we should also continue to see the end to boundaries of how people can access their content.

A curious example of this type of thinking is the Smart Forstars concept car (video below), which was launched at the Paris Motor Show. Not content with updating their city car, Smart has wants to house a home cinema projector in the bonnet. By using an iPhone and connecting the device to the car’s multimedia projector via Bluetooth, you will be able to turn any large wall into your private drive-in (who misses these?).

With the incremental improvement in access to wireless networks, including faster broadband speeds and LTE networks, we will no doubt see many more technological products that transcend their original purpose and become integrated content providers to suit the consumer’s thirst for their favourite film, TV show or musical artist.

Like many other companies trying to garner interest from the urban consumer and creating a niche that might go mainstream, Smart is testing the water with this new approach to sharing audiovisual content. Only time will tell if this will indeed succeed in reaching production, or if it will go the course of many ideas that never get to a checkout basket or the shelves and showrooms of retailers.

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