Archive for the 'Advertising' Category

10
Sep
10

Has Mr Murdoch scored a spectacular own goal?

MacBook Pro displaying The Times website.I’m an avid Times reader, from the headlines to the Cricket, and I’m especially rabid if there’s a new restaurant revue, or an opinion leader from Giles Coren, A.A.Gill, Jeremy Clarkson or Alpha Mummy.

It’s been almost five years since I had a regular subscription to a newspaper delivered to my house and, if I’m honest, quite a lot of that had something to do with The Times moving to the horrific tabloid layout that’s plagued its paper version ever since. I’m now a digital reader – I rarely buy a newspaper in print form, unless I’m travelling or fancying an idyllic weekend curled up with tea, papers and good books; something my iPhone and my obsessive e-mail checking syndrome almost always curtails.

As a digital reader I enjoyed Times Online, it wasn’t quite as pretty as the Guardian, or quite as interactive as the FT, but when it was redesigned I started to get excited. The layout was clean, easy to navigate and retained a certain sense that you’re reading news rather than just seeing news between a hundred flashing adverts, social media side bars and endless inane comments; but then along came Paywall Day.

Some predicted it would be like all the lights going out (you won’t be able to survive without it), others (sneakily calling themselves the majority) thought otherwise, but a month and a bit in, the Paywall hasn’t destroyed The Times, at least not yet.

The most obvious change was that the amount of articles, carrying significant amounts of user generated comment, dropped dramatically; the blame americans/europeans/arabs/the left (delete as applicable) ramblers and loons have been silenced, replaced instead by people that understand the importance of an argument and capital letters. Threaded comment system has also made it possible to engage users directly, resulting in branch topics and a real ability to pull up those who haven’t thought their comments through or are, in your opinion, just plain wrong.

The quality of the articles has also increased – almost all feature pieces have video, photo galleries and associated stories surrounding them; something that the previous incarnation of the site used to struggle with, So it’s here that I’m seeing the real value of the subscription; The Times is now regularly rivalling the BBC on the integrated nature of its copy, and that can only be an improvement to the often trivialised articles that appear as fillers on other news sites.

So it’s all good? Well not quite. There’s no denying, it’s a quieter site than it used to be – there’s still a significant amount of similar content available free elsewhere, and it’s clear that The Times is going to have to work hard to get people into its site. What is interesting is that with the exception of the initial trial period when the website launched there’s now no sample, no tasters, no giveaways – nothing, nadda, zip. If you want the Times, great, if you’re not sure they give no reasons to reassure. It’s this lack of a reason to buy that I think is their main barrier to increased subscription sales; only time will tell if Murdoch’s real conviction that content should be paid for acts as a limiter or an enabler for The Times. What is for certain is that other than rumours that other News International publications might follow, The Times is currently standing alone on the shoreline, and only time will tell if the tide washes over them or they change it’s direction.

21
Jul
10

The future of public advertising in Cameron’s ‘Big Society’

The Central Office of Information’s budget has long been a topic of debate; so much so that we featured the government’s “centre of marketing excellence” in a special general election blog. Weeks later, the shape of the coalition government’s plans for the COI are becoming apparent. What will the future hold for public advertising in the UK?

The government’s austerity budget has already found its high profile advertising victim: The ‘Change4Life’ campaign, led by M&C Saatchi, will have its £75 million advertising budget come. The move comes amongst general plans to slash public marketing budgets by 50%.
The coalition government has called upon food and drink companies, and the wider commercial sector, to provide a voice for the campaign in their own advertising and marketing. This is a new vision to tackle the public health issue, and the move promises interesting results – not least the shouldering of the public health burden by commercial brands.

The Change4Life campaign has been backed by various commercial partners in the past – but now charities and local authorities have been invited to fill the funding gap created by the national deficit. The government’s promotion of healthy lifestyles is thus to be led by businesses.

A natural and valid question is whether brands that sell ‘unhealthy’ products leading a public health campaign is really the optimal solution. Will they support real efforts to encourage lifestyle-changing habits that encourage more exercise and healthier diets? The answer lies in a new form of corporate social responsibility – which is certainly preferable to increased state regulation. Advertisements coming from brands are more likely to be heard by consumers, as those coming from government are often seen as too prescriptive and not-engaging enough.

There is a benefit for brands: If the government is relying on companies to fund public health advertising, it is unlikely that it will introduce regulations against the advertising of food high in fat, salt and sugar on television. Nevertheless, we like the idea of a collaborative effort between the public and private sector. Lifestyle and healthy eating advice is more relevant when coming from a brand that we have already bought-in to.

A further cost-cutting move by the government proves their media-savvy. Like many other brands, Change4Life will mainly be promoted through social media rather than traditional advertising campaigns. Prime Minister David Cameron has already met with Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to discuss ways that the social networking site can be used to engage citizens on policy issues. The recently implemented ‘Spending Challenge’ page invites the British public to express their own ideas on cutting the government’s budget deficit.

As the government is open to cost-saving suggestions delivered through social media, you’ll forgive us for voicing our own advice for saving money and improving public service.

Rather than relying on large agencies, through none-creative barriers to tendering, we believe that public advertising can become both more engaging and cost-effective if the COI expressed confidence in leaner, talented agencies handling public sector public projects. Prioritising creative content over well-known names should be encouraged. It would certainly stop larger agencies from becoming over-dependent on government contracts; something the new coalition government can only be interested in promoting.

Saving money by asking private companies to take responsibility for their commercial activitities is a good start for the UK’s main media buyer. Is it ready to trust responsible agencies to provide value for money?


Camille le Goff is a Junior Brand Staffer with Vivid London

01
Jul
10

Social media is taking the fashion world by storm

Social Media is changing the fashion worldNothing is sacred on the internet. In the past five years, social media has quickly changed the way we consume our news, run our businesses and interact with our friends. Fashion, once the least ‘techy’ of industries, has quickly adapted and evolved to take full advantage of ‘smart’ social media.

Style Rookie

Tavi is internationally recognised as one of the most powerful young people in the fashion industry. Starting her own blog at age eleven led to a quick rise to fame, which in turn has led to commissions for pieces with Vogue and Pop. She’s also worked alongside respected designers, like Rodarte.

Starting with a basic blogger account, this little girl has taken huge strides to capitalise upon everything that new media has to offer.

D.I.Y.

Many of the biggest shoe brands are now listening to their customers and giving them control over the design process. Interactive features from shoe companies like Nike and Converse let users create their own truly personalised shoes from a collection of white base models. Your own creation then arrives at your door a few days later. This simply would not have been logistically possible but a few years ago, and highlights the democratising nature of the internet.

Chictopia

“What are you wearing today?” is a question many of the fashion conscious hear a lot. Now you can share your own creations and combinations with the world, thanks to Chictopia. The concept is simple: Upload a picture of your clothing choices and share them with others. It’s also a neigh-infinite source of inspiration; much more so than you could possibly take in at a club or on the street. Users can filter by age, style, events, locations and body types – making sure that the content you see is what you asked for. The site is starting to be recognised beyond the digital world; a trend we expect to carry on.

ASOS

ASOS, an online only brand, is now a real rival to bricks-and-mortar Topshop and River Island. How? Though competitive pricing, extraordinary customer service, and by capitalising on the lunch-hour push. ASOS is thriving in a competitive market from a web-only base.

ShowStudio

An experimental group that has been utilising the crossover between fashion and the internet since the late 1990’s, ShowStudio is a success story that regularly falls between the gaps in fashion, art and technology. Masterminded by the photographer Nick Knight, the experiment has embraced the internet since its inception. Recently, the website ran a live, online interview that featured a transcript simultaneously alongside.

Burberry

As part of Burberry’s new Spring/Summer 2010 campaign, the haute couture brand has been paving the way with their online output. Recently showing their catwalk show online, in full 3-D, photographer Mario Testino has also shot an interactive catalogue of the new collection. Featuring models that seemingly step out of the screen upon a mouse click, the campaign is regarded as being the future of online fashion advertising.

Social media may have taken the fashion world by storm – but it’s a storm that fashion world has fully embraced. It makes sense: Fashion magazines have now been replaced by their new media cousins, democratising and personalising fashion and bringing it closer to customers.


Andrew Beedle and Anisha Chandarana are Junior Design Staffers at Vivid London.

Image credit: Andrew, Anisha and Conal Kelly, who is on work experience with Vivid London from the John Fisher School, Sutton.

11
Jun
10

Web saved the video star

Remember the Macintosh TV that was released in 1993?

No, you don’t and it comes as no surprise – the product was a flop. It does represent one of the first attempts by a computer manufacturer to turn a large computer monitor into a casual television.

2006 saw Apple return to this sector with the Apple TV, a hard drive based box that plays streamed content from your iTunes library on your television. The equation changed – this time Apple were turning to TV into a computer, not vice versa. It’s a brilliant of technology, but commercially, it’s been a flop compared to Apple’s iEverythings.

Web TV is a sweet dream; it’s fascinated us for a long time, but has never been able to meet audience expectations. Times are changing: last month’s “Google TV” announcement attests as much. The idea is simple: bring our computer-like experience on to a friendlier screen through internet-enabled television or digital set-top boxes. Basically, TV will become an extension of the internet.

Google has expanded out of its usual business sector by investing the TV market, which gives Apple the opportunity to counter attack with an updated version of its Apple TV. Though still largely unsubstantiated, the rumour mill is churning out prognostications of a flash-memory based device running iPhone OS that will cost a lot less than the current Apple TV. Rumour, yes – but Apple rumours have a tendency of coming true (at least eventually).

The idea of a Google or an Apple TV is seducing and will imply big changes in our viewing habits –A keyboard in my living-room?! No more fighting over the remote?! No more buttons on the remote?! We’ll be able to find related streaming videos instantly. Ad targetting will take a huge leap forward. Forget your phone or pad – web apps are about to invade your front room. We can probably agree that the information overload we’re now presented with could soon replace the modest pleasure of sitting in front of the TV while hanging around the net with a laptop on our knees.

Google is first and foremost an advertising company, and its TV offers many advertising opportunities. Google’s model will allow TV advertisers to target specific keywords searches to reach their audiences precisely. Audience demographic information is going to become a lot more useful.

The concept of web-browsing on television would enable advertisers to have a privileged access to our viewing habits and the ability to offer ads based on what we are watching. It would be the best way to collect data and to enjoy lovely bespoke ads. It’s a win-win situation. But there is more.

Businesses will have to start thinking in a different way. With the apparition of a browser tool on TV, businesses have to  bear in mind the optimisation of their online content to fit on a TV screen. Search engine optimisation on Google and YouTube should be a top priority because obviously users don’t perceive information on the web and on TV in the same way.

We are not putting the cart before the horse, but if Google TV does really take off, there will have a lot of implications for businesses; not least because advertising will become more attractive (and potentially more effective) than ever before!

See you in 2012.


Camille le Goff is a Junior Brand Staffer with Vivid London

19
May
10

Three reasons why you should shake up your retainer.

Retainers are for all agencies the gold star – a retained client paying monthly or quarterly is exactly what most agencies strive to get: yes the big projects are all very nice, but a client paying you regularly… well that’s gold dust.

But does it encourage agencies to work harder for their clients?

The answer to that question in most cases is unfortunately no. It’s one of the reasons I started Vivid all those years ago, I got so depressed working at large agencies seeing great accounts lose their spark the minute they became retained. All to often in this industry, retained work becomes expected and standard, clients you’d once have fought for become clients that are just there, they pay and you deliver what’ll keep them happy, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with retained work, it must be treated with respect by the agency and an iron fist by the client, because otherwise it’s bad for you, and it’s bad for the reputation of our industry.

Firstly let’s look at you, it’s your money after all. At first you think you’re getting good value, you’ve got an almost ‘in house’ team – they deal with everything and you very rarely have to get into the bowels of the work, after a time things become routine, a few press releases a month, an issues awareness day or week, your happy face in the media when the easy picking stories come up for you to respond with, what’s wrong with that?

Well quite a bit – the routine falls into motions, easy to go through, well practiced – but essentially the same, day in day out. Good public relations and marketing is reliant on innovation and creativity, it relies on a hunger to find or create the good news, as well as just responding lazily to the bad. The second your retained team fall into that routine the quality of your press and marketing plummets, you need the fire of the pitch or at least an agency that retains the fire of the pitch to stave off the familiarity that breeds mediocrity.

Second, it’s bad for the agency: yes the money is nice – but a retained client is an agency football, yes the big guns are brought out for important matches, but the rest of the time the ‘b’ team will do – one of the reasons I got out of big agencies was because I was fed up with accounts being passed off to junior staff and interns the first time the client wasn’t looking: they’d bill the time as if it was the full team, but often that team was off working on new business – fighting hard on new projects because they’ve won the fight already on yours.

Third, it’s bad for the industry, it promotes laziness a worrying lack of transparency between the ‘account directors’ who meet with the client and those people who actually do the work on your retained account, but most concerning it promotes a culture where a complete lack of creativity is the norm: ‘it will do’ solutions overtake cutting edge thinking, the easy option becomes the only option – and when that happens it dulls the edge of our whole industry.

So what can you do? Well first – look long and hard at your agency, working with them should feel as fresh ten years in as it did when your first worked together; there should be a real sense that they know what they’re doing of course, but the thinking should still be filled with excitement and not tinged with cynicism.

Then, talk to your agency, don’t be afraid to ask exactly what they do for the retainer, if you think they should be doing more then make that clear, and a good way to start is to build in a monthly creative briefing – make them think for their money, good ideas will allow you and them to innovate and reach new goals.

And finally, talk goals – don’t let your agency get away with presenting a cuttings folder as ‘proof’ think hard about whether it’s met your goals, where is your return on investment – any agency worth their salt should be able to talk ROI, don’t be fooled by impressions to view or estimated worth, tie them down to how it impacts your business.

And if all this still doesn’t get you a better press and marketing service, why not talk to someone like us – never afraid to talk about your bottom line, and always happy to create and innovate, because we realise that real, measurable growth in your business is critical to the success of our own.

13
May
10

What does your collateral say about you?

What our collateral says about us

What we say about ourselves

It’s easy to get caught up in design. We see it time and time again: beautifully designed collateral (that’s your brochures, menus, business cards, letter heads, signage, and the like) with badly written copy.

Customers will notice bad design immediately: I’m sure that everyone reading this has a shop/salon/cinema/whatever in their neighbourhood whose brand and collateral looks like the owner was left alone with MS Paint and Wordart for an afternoon. Design gives your brand credibility with your market. Even the most boring or run-of-the-mill service can be set apart from its competitors through pleasing design.

But what you say about yourself is equally important. Beautiful design won’t make up for wooly or badly written copy. Sit down and think of what your customers need to make the decision to use your service or buy your product. Are they all intelligently placed in your collateral? Are you sure that this is what your marketplace needs to hear – as opposed to what you want to tell them?

To inspire you, we’ve included the words we use to describe ourselves. If you want some help making your copy as beautiful as your design, talk to us today.

06
May
10

It’s time for the creative industry to take responsibility

Our thoughts on COI Reform and today’s General Election

On the eve of the United Kingdom’s most interesting General Election in modern times, many in the advertising and marketing sectors are still concerned about the future of the Central Office of Information (COI), the British government’s marketing agency.

As well as being Britain’s largest advertiser, the COI is the Government’s main procurer of advertising and marketing services. Most British agencies are therefore stakeholders in the organisation.

The COI’s current way of working has been called in to question; both by the Government in recent months, and by the battling governments-in-waiting during this election campaign.
As things stand, the Treasury, led by Chancellor Alastair Darling, has ordered a 25% reduction in the marketing and advertising budgets of all Whitehall departments for the current two years. Both main opposition parties, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have no objections to this cut.

But there is more to the parties’ plans for the COI. Campaigns that have worked in the past are now failing to reach their audiences or drive them to action. There have been success stories, like the recent binge drinking virals by VCCP which certainly caught the public’s attention.

Generally, though, the political consensus seems to be that COI campaigns aren’t as effective as they once were – mainly because they are becoming increasingly middle of the road, arguably as larger agencies begin to count on COI business regardless of creative content. Campaigns that fail to reach their objectives and don’t provide a great deal of return on investment are a problem for the taxpayer.

The Conservatives have announced plans to move COI contracts to a pay per results model. At Vivid London, we’d be happy to work under those conditions – we are confident in our abilities – but a lot of other agencies see the practice as unfair. They argue that ads can only promote behavioural change, not guarantee it.

Nothing’s certain in the world of marketing. You can never guarantee that a press release you send out, however interesting the story or full of hooks the content, will be picked up by the media. You can never guarantee that any advertising campaign that you run will change the audiences behaviour (purchasing or otherwise). And you can never be sure that your shiny new communications strategy will reach all of its audiences.

But you can mitigate these uncertainties. Our work at Vivid London is informed by thorough research – meaning that we audit all previous marketing efforts, analyse target audiences counterintuitively and focus on measurable deliverables. We’re upfront about our expected results and are happy to be judged (and paid) by them.

All in all, this will mean more efficient use of taxpayer money and more heated battles for part of the COI’s £232m annual budget. It will also lead to more stylish, effective and better advertising in the future. This is better for both agencies and consumers – after all, talking to the audience in a way that they understand is what creative agencies are supposed to do! Becoming reliant on government contracts not only impedes an agency’s creativity, but can also lead to disaster when these contracts are withdrawn. Just ask i-Level.

Whatever the colour(s) of the next government, the creative industry needs to become more efficient and adaptable – and it needs to accept direct responsibility for campaign performance. We always have – and always will.


Adam James Morecroft & Camille le Goff




Who we are

We can be discreet or highly vocal, stylish but cost-effective. Always fresh and successful, we offer vibrant marcoms solutions.

Visit us: vividlondon.com

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