Tag Archives: advertising

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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How long should a branded video be?

Mourgue’s Djinn chair is just one of the many creations you will find
in this video for Renault TV.

The duration of a video should not be one of the deciding factors when creating branded content. It is inspiration, relevancy, usefulness and entertainment that are the main characteristics of the most successful videos out there.

I recently came across this video created by Publicis Entertainment for Renault and their Renault TV platform. Over the course of 26 minutes, we travel through five decades of design tendencies and how they influenced fashion, music, social habits and the production industry (including some of this French car manufacturer’s most iconic creations). As an example of branded content, how effective is this long-form video in trying to reach its target audience?

Well let’s start by stating the obvious: brands are increasingly relying on video content to engage consumer interest. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, this is also true in a B2B environment, where use of video as a marketing tool increased from 52% to 70% from 2011 to 2012.

Video has indeed become the driving force of numerous marketing campaigns, with examples ranging from 1-minute virals such as the Cravendale “Cats with Thumbs” Milk Matters campaign to the more challenging Kony 2012 awareness campaign video. Both these videos amassed millions of viewers on YouTube. Yet they required very different amounts of time and attention from the viewer.

How long or short should a video be to be able to sustain viewers’ attention?

The answer is to this question forms part of the many challenges that content marketers face on a daily basis, where the quest to reach a very informed, time-poor, easily distracted, banner-blind consumer or business owner is not a matter of how large a budget you have, but instead how effective you can make your content with whatever resources are at your disposal.

Could it be that the above 26-minute video asks too much from the time-hungry viewer? Perhaps, especially if they’re accessing the content on their mobile, in which case targeting the consumer while they’re on the go would be a mistake. With ever dwindling attention spans, especially with the younger generation, the competition to grab (and keep) a consumer’s attention is white hot.

Some voices in the industry will therefore say that long-form content has had its day. Indeed, if we are to take into account the relaunch and subsequent rise in popularity of the news curating app Summly (at the time of writing, it’s at the top of the App Store free app chart), we can say that the constantly mobile consumer now only has time to catch up on 400 character items of news. Were we apply this logic to branded content in video format, then creators will have to limit themselves to 2-3 minutes to tell their story and get the message across. This would of course approach the realms of ‘advertising’ videos, which when well executed and integrated in an effective campaign, easily become a viral hit.

In an age of instant gratification, content creators should therefore not be focusing on how long the video is, but instead concentrate on making each second, line or image of their content relevant, inspiring, entertaining and/or useful. There will always be thirst for content that has either or all of these attributes. If the viewer will gain something from giving the brand their time and consequently follows up with one of the many possible actions we ask them to perform, then the video has served its purpose.

But what about very good videos that have poor view counts or haven’t had an impact on the overall objectives of the marketing campaign? I will leave my considerations on this matter to another post, so do come visit my blog in the not too distant future.

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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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