Category: Advertising

Packaging for the zombie generation

I love sports, dancing, skating, running… And healthy eating goes with it. This however has stopped me in my tracks, confused and perhaps a bit bewildered.

What were they thinking? Is it a promo merchandise goody for the latest apocalyptic movie hitting the screens? Or did I miss the band wagon of runners fashion etiquette? Or is it leftover stock from a yet unpublished branding exercise episode of The Apprentice?

Eventually I was ready to move on, Spring in my step and fuel your 10k hours left of the shelf. 

scary, not yummy, perhaps I'm not zombie enough!
scary, not yummy, perhaps I’m not zombie enough!

Nice idea, sack the art worker 

When the agency placing this advert for the saucy fish co got a copy of the magazine on their desks they must have had one of those moments…
How can this happen in today’s tech savvy world? Get a discount for the next one! What a shame.

print magazine artwork error

print magazine artwork error
Taking the biscuit – with crop marks

Santander and That Strange Connection

20130718-181332.jpg We must be a nation in love with sport at the
moment. Last year’s Olympics are still a relatively fresh memory,
Andy Murray did us proud at Wimbledon and all is not lost yet for
the football, either. I get that celebrities are powerful brand
endorsers and can add to the image enormously – but what Santander
has to do with it is still a mystery to me. I find their sports ads
this year just as contrived as the bank account raving ones with
Lewis Hamilton last year. Throwing anames at a brand campaign does
not guarantee it will be memorable for all the right reasons. Note
to self: must research some good examples of where it works well
for a brand. After my holiday. And without thinking about
Santander’s iPhone app.

advertising, Branding

BMW – Beautiful Marketing Opportunity Wasted

BMW-Brand-advertising-franchise
What were they thinking? This amount of words from such a brand is leaving me speechless…

Hands up everyone who thinks that this is a yellow pages ad from a small business with the BMW logo stuck on… I hope I am not the only one that feels this is way below the usual brand aesthetics of BMW, brand managers cry your eyes out.
Upon closer inspection I realise of course that this is a franchise advert – but I still don’t understand why that implies you can throw any typography style out the window. They may however have gotten a decent discount from the media agency backed up by brand guidelines because there must be a paragraph somewhere that states that the type should be completely visible after the ad has been stuck on, and not like in this sample missing a letter right in the middle of the sheet.
BMW-Brand-advertising-franchise-error
We know how it happened, but that still doesn’t make it right.

Located at a prime spot in our town, this seems such a wasted opportunity – although I wonder how many target market drivers go past the local Aldi… It does blatantly highlight the difference between brand advertising and franchise advertising where the bar still seems to be set much lower and price dictates quality of design.
Whatever the motivation  behind this, in my mind the brand would have been better off with just the logo on a white background.

Which Came First – The Chicken or The Chicken?

I know that when you really look hard, everything has been done before in some way, shape or form, and the challenge of creatives is to come up with new and innovative ways to use a set number of visual devices us people are familiar with to communicate in an engaging manner, but it does strike me as strange when a big brand like McDonald’s uses literally the same device as another big brand (albeit in the pet food market) to advertise one of their key products.

mcdonald's brand advert
What does it say about the brand – apart from ‘hey, we like the Whiskas campaign and thought we do the same!’

Looking at the advert for McDonald’s chicken burger, I am not convinced that it actually works as a brand or product advertisement. It is neither here nor there in terms of emotion and message. Surely if you stuffed your face with a chicken burger in a delightful frenzy, the packaging would look worse for wear with eager fingers dipping in?
Whiskas product advert
Cat food origami… a bit different… but quite sweet.

I know that you can’t always avoid repeating visual devices, in this case origami, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that as such, if executed in an innovative way or used to tell a new story, be relevant and fresh.
tissue brand advert
Folded message. Not really unfolding well.

Looking at this ad for Colhogar, I am not sure the connection with tissue paper for runny noses is really evident. And if you ever tried to actually make origami out of these type of tissues, it is nearly impossible and frustrating because of the softness of the paper (now here is a thought that might actually show a benefit of the paper to the consumer who might prefer the message of ‘too soft to be stable’ for their noses).
greenpeace advert
Missing something.

This Greenpeace advert is another origami example, the connection being the ‘wasting paper kills more than just trees’ but the visual execution is somewhat missing some warmth or depth.
bancoMatoneparrots
This bank’s strapline is ‘multiply your money’ but it beats me why they used birds instead of animals we naturally associate with rapid breeding (rabbits, anyone?).
brand advertisement
Sport artificial leather to stop animal slaughter – sorry, lost on me!

I also don’t quite get this advert for Rexiine House. I don’t even know what the connection is to their brand, what they do, why I should care. Perhaps this is simply an unlucky find because they are an indian company and won’t have exposure here.
The adverts below for Western Union also use origami, but I do like what they have done with it. Unlike the ‘multiplying’ advert, they used the essence of the bank notes themselves to create a connection between money transfers and the human aspect as well as the distance and cultural differences. It shifts the brand message from being a financial transaction to being a human interaction. Nicely done.
western union advert western-union-money-transfer-faces-1
I wonder how the McDonald’s chicken burger campaign will work for them. Perhaps they have planned a whole interactive origami media campaign with in-restaurant tutorials and bespoke packaging with instructions to bring the rather unsubtle copy of the Whiskas adverts to a better live… but why do I doubt that?

advertising, brand advertising, graphic design

When Being NOT on Display is Actually a Compliment for Your Brand

We often talk about the brand as an asset and sometimes I wonder if it perhaps sounds a little bit fictitious or like typical marketing buzz word talk, so I am always on the lookout for examples of perceived brand value to see how it affects a product or service and how we interact with it.

Perceived-brand-value
A no-show as a sure sign of success

Once again using that local jewellers shop window as an example – it strikes me that some brands are clearly perceived to be worth more than others. Rolex? No need to advertise the watch itself and definitely not worth the risk of staying in the shop display during the mall’s closing time. MONTBLANC? Another product with just the bare bones of the watch holders kept on show and the actual goods nowhere to be seen.
Maurice Lacroix on the other hand seem to be in need of a better brand strategy (and perhaps they should really reconsider their choice of brand ambassador). Their products remain on display no matter what the risk.
Even if there is some simple insurance reason behind the empty shelves, it does differentiate Rolex and MONTBLANC as superior brands worth protecting with the extra effort of taking all the goods off the display when the shop shuts.
Ernest Jones are by no means a market stall, so it tells a funny little story about brand value. I wonder if the brand that are kept in sight of potential thieves and thus potentially deemed less tempting are aware of the perhaps unintentional brand differentiation.
For Rolex and MONTBLANC it’s surely another win – win situation in the luxury watch market and also shows how their logos alone are deemed brand communicators enough to warrant taking the products away despite plenty of out-of-hours foot traffic passing by.

We Fuel Progress – Just Not at This Petrol Station…

I mused about this strap line from petrol brand Esso not long ago in this post and when I filled up at the very same station where I first came across the slogan, I had to smile when I saw this new info sheet hung on each petrol pump, advising that advanced fuels are not sold at this station. It’s just one confused brand message in my mind. What do they sell now? Normal fuels? Advanced fuels? And what does the strap line have to do with it all if not the obvious?

Esso-Brand-Advertising
All that progress, just don’t expect to see any of it where you fill up…

I wonder who made them clarify – and I wonder how long they will stick with this in my mind saying a lot without saying anything really tag line of Esso.
Perhaps the tiger will be back in our tanks sooner or later – or perhaps these days animal rights campaigners will have to say a thing or two about this as well…

advertising, brand management, brand message

Learn to Look the Other Way – With Birmingham City University

BCU-Brand-Advert
Become the best – and look the other way

Of course this is another very subjective matter, but it struck me as odd to see this advert promoting Birmingham City University courses. In my mind, teaching is about communication, facing each other, learning from each other – and in this poster, they seem to be saying that you become the best when you don’t look at each other. It may be that the visual won’t work as well because the lines of the cogs and conveyor belt would go across the eye area of the heads, but then perhaps they should have thought of a different way to show this message.
This graphic doesn’t work for me and if anything, the visual makes me doubt that they have the right courses on offer that will be stimulating, engaging and empowering – it just feels wrong, whichever way I look at it.

advertising, attitude, brand advertising, Branding, graphic design

When Thinking Backwards is a Step in the Right Direction

fitflops-covering-beach-with-logo
What are they saying?

Imagine a vast landscape covered with your logo, visible at every step. Would be nice? Meet fitflop, the brand who had the chance to do just that, but decided not to.
fitflops-beach-branding
Turns out, they are saying nothing at all! What a pity, ’cause they could have had their logo plastered all over the sandy beaches of the world…

Their fashionable take on flip flops with a ‘special’ sole has been present on the UK high street for a while now and has become another summer shoe brand alongside Crocs .
On the bottom of their shoes emblazoned in large letters is their logo in a distinct type. It seems that nobody in the product design department saw the potential of the beach shoes spelling out the brand message on Britain’s sandy shores and overseas. Instead, they leave a rather uninspiring ‘golftit’ or just a jumble of what could be letters.
It seems such an apt carrier  for their brand message (beach, sand, sandals, big letter logo…) I can’t believe no-one jumped at this opportunity!

Brand Strategy, Branding, graphic design, typography

Follow Your Convictions – And Sack the Stylist!

There have been a number of blog posts about Bob Geldof’s campaign with Maurice Lacroix and how those two brands go together. They even made a video clip – though in my mind it doesn’t really help change the perception that Bob has perhaps gone for the bucks rather than the ethos.
This blog post by merrick describes the moral dilemma rather nicely.
There is however another issue in this – one where I question the watch brand’s choice to use Bob Geldof as their ambassador – and the main question why they could not manage to create a better image of him representing their high quality products! Greasy hair, bags under the eyes, unhealthy looking skin, a rather cynical look – the whole poster shouts everything other than individualism, integrity and high quality.
Perhaps they are appealing to an audience I do not understand but it would put me off considering their watches as desirable no matter what the price tag.

Bob-Geldof-branding
The right kind of image for a luxury watch brand? It might have looked good as an idea on paper, but the result looks more like a badly printed student project.

advertising, brand management, Brand Vision, Branding, personal branding

Permanent Advertising and its Pitfalls

It probably seemed a good idea at the time, but I wonder if the brand owners of this advert expected their advert to be overshadowed by nothing less than another building! Made me smile anyway…

Brand-Advertising-Problem
What came first? The chicken or the egg?

advertising, Funny

An (Almost) Perfect Ambient Brand Advert

If it wasn’t for the scale of the people directly in front of this billboard for McDonald’s, this would be right up there for me as a super ambient brand advert that plays with the environment with great effect.
It works really well in terms of message and being memorable – and it’s apt for the campaign the brand was running as a main sponsor during the London 2012 Olympics. I’m Lovin’ it!…
Image

ambient, brand advertising

Saw this and it made me smile…

Brand Advert for Virgin Mobile
Speaking a brand’s language – visually and in the copy. Nice one.

Here is  just one of those nice ads that don’t try too hard and don’t try to be too clever, either.
I love the typography and the feeling they don’t take themselves too seriously, either. The Virgin brand at its best. Talks the language and has a light feel around it. Shame they still send me unsolicited mail every week which is irrelevant to myself and puts the brand values down a notch in my own mind.
 

advertising, brand language, brand message, Branding, typography

SME Branding Lesson #19 – Brand Strategy and the Recession

branding in a recession
Saving in the wrong place – an easy mistake in the world of branding and marketing

It’s much talked-about in the media and favourite subject of a lot of marketing agencies – for good reason. An economic downturn inevitably means budget cuts, and marketing, design and advertising budgets are often conceived to be the outgoings which businesses can live without.
Of course everybody who knows even just a little bit about market positioning, purchasing cycles and consumer behaviour knows that this is a bit of a trap a lot of SMEs fall into. Because it is so hard to track the ROI (return on investment) of marketing elements, such as a new brochure design, an updated website or even a fully fledged re-brand, businesses find it hard to see why they have to keep the work up in order to reap the rewards.
I like to think of it as one of the vital habits of business. Just the way you can’t expect your teeth to stay clean if you stop brushing them because you are short of time (or toothpaste), you can’t expect your brand to flourish and grow if you don’t keep working on getting your brand message out there. So in that sense, all that marketing talk is very true. I do however think that the recession does give more than the challenge of continuing marketing activities to benefit from gaining market positions due to competitors bailing out or lying low.
When money is tight, creativity becomes extra valuable. Creativity allows to stretch a brand, to tweak out new methods of getting it out there, to household with budgets and still stand out with truly beneficial messages, information, services or products instead of  expensive gimmicks. Looking beyond the print and online marketing could yield inexpensive answers that retain existing customers and get your brand talked about.
Consider some of the following:

  • Have you clearly defined your target market or are you ‘carpet bombing’ and thus having increased spending without guaranteed response?
  • How can  you add value to your existing customers – can you share some expert knowledge that will help them and set you apart from competitors?
  • How do your target audiences engage with your brand? Is there a way to reach them that does not require expensive ad campaigns?
  • Do you have a single focus product or service that is the core of your brand and that convinces new and existing clients? Are you pushing this or are you in danger of diluting your brand by trying too many other things that may or may not increase business?
  • Do you excel through excellence in your field – and in the way you treat your customers? Are there ways you can improve the interaction between your brand and consumers with staff training, brand understanding and focusing on delivering an amazing experience?
  • Are you talking to the right people?
  • Could you use the press to gain some coverage through interesting stories?
  • Is your brand easy to recognise? Is your existing marketing material adding to your brand and are you proud to share it?
  • Do you spend your time and resources on perceived ‘free’ marketing, such as social, because it works for  you or just because everybody else does it?

Each business is individual and has individual challenges. The recession is not great for most of us (money lenders and crooks not counting). It is however a definite opportunity to drive a brand forward and gain momentum when the competition seems to stand still…

brand management, brand positioning, creativity, marketing, recession

Another Brand Advert That Talks the Language of Land Rover

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu5rlsBzKEQ]
I came across this advert and I think it is another great example for using the language of a brand to get across the brand message. It’s simple, it’s not trying too hard and it even reminds of one of those student briefings for coming up with the essence of a brand and using it to create a memorable ad campaign.
Entertaining. And true to itself. I’d never drive one, but if I ever should need a cross country vehicle, I will probably start by looking at their brand.

Technorati Claim Token… N466NT9ZCNER

advertising, attitude, brand, brand loyalty, Branding

The Mighty Power of Personal Brands and Twitter – and what the ASA has to say about it…

… In the case of Wayne Rooney, some may say that brand personality may be debatable compared to David Beckham or Stevie Gerrard, but he has undeniably an amazing followership on twitter and the brains behind him to make money from his brand.
Turns out, a lot of other celebrities have done the same and that kind of endorsement has been debated by the ASA and in the case of a tweet relating to the NIKE campaign, he has been asked to change/remove the sponsored tweet.
In an article the BBC writes:

“This is relatively new territory for us as a regulator,” ASA spokesman Matt Wilson told the BBC.
“People are experimenting and using Twitter to reach consumers, but the same advertising rules apply. It’s an ongoing process and this illustrates the care firms must take.”

Wayne Rooney Twitter Campaign for Nike
Not identifiable as marketing communications – Who’d have thought…

It is an interesting development and perhaps a sign of things to come as commerce exploits people brands as key influencers on social media. It also makes me wonder if such strategies will be a long-term success for both sides; the celebrity and the consumer brand. Either may be taken less serious or be seen in the wrong light when the true motivation behind brand endorsements is made obvious.
It does seem a logical way to use influencers to evoke desirability and connect a product or service with a certain status – but in my mind this works much better when it is not as obviously doctored or orchestrated as the Tag Heuer watches ad campaigns.
Tag heuer brand adverts
Pure paid brand endorsement by celebrities – always making me cringe slightly because of its contrived nature.

On the whole though I agree with Ed Aranda, cited in an article about the twitter endorsement issue, that people should be grown up and wise enough by now to understand those new emerging adverts and to take them for what they are – an invitation to pay to join the tribe of the endorser but by no means any more forcefully than all the other marketing surrounding us daily.

advertising, brand advertising, brand loyalty, personal branding

Is it time to bring behaviourism back into strategies?

This is a really interesting subject. I guess it does go beyond loyalty card systems and referral schemes.
It brings to mind psychological phenomena such as the notion that people experience loss ten times more than they feel when gaining something. Or the idea that our brain is programmed to find patterns, and changes – we become blind to things that don’t change and we become superstitious when patterns in our interaction with the world are detected.
Malcolm Gladwell talks about the subject to some extend in Tipping Point when he describes the characteristics of those influencers who can tip the balance and achieve a result – be it hush puppies or Paul Revere‘s ride during the American Revolution.
It would be great to see some examples of current brands using behaviourism as a basis for their brand strategy – and perhaps that kind of case study would be just what they expected…

behaviourism

When a Brand Mix Becomes a Brand Mix Up

Santander-brand-advert-in-control
More out of control… A jumble of brands and graphics

Santander-brand-advert-pole-position
Pole position? Or running behind the times?

The adverts position Santander as one of the Formula One brands. Here are some thoughts on why I don’t think they really work in favour of this brand.

1) Visual appearance

The images come across as contrived and – apologies to the designers – a bit messy. The main graphics features racing driver Lewis Hamilton wrapped in a range of brands – Mercedes Benz, Vodaphone, Boss etc – some in a far more prominent position on the driver’s suit than Santander. It does (in my mind at least) not convey the message of being ‘In Control’ especially since the advertiser’s logo is cluttered by other brand icons.
Visually, the first thing I saw was the Mercedes Benz star, then I noticed the Vodaphone logo and finally I did make the effort to follow the ad to the Santander logo.

2) Too many messages spoil the broth

There seem to be at least three strap lines there as well – ‘In business with you’, ‘Driven to do better.’ and ‘Value from ideas’. All have their own different typography. To add to the disjointed image they put on a QR code and yet another logo linking to Santander.
The messages don’t gel and they don’t make me want to scan that QR code and find out more. They just create a sense of ‘design by committee’ where too much was packed in.

3) The right brand ambassador?

I am no Formula One expert by any means but it seems to me that Lewis Hamilton has been more in the press recently for his on/off relationship with Nicole Scherzinger than winning races.
And even if he is ‘consistently improving this season’, as a brand I would be very careful in the selection of a person that you associate your brand’s persona with.

Kerry Katona Iceland Brand Ambassador
A step too far for Iceland brand values. Following photographs of Katona taking drugs, she is dropped from the advertising campaign of the supermarket chain.

Iceland is a great example for how not to pick women as responsible brand ambassadors – Kerry Katona and Stacey Salomon, both displaying dubious behaviour. Katona was dropped quickly following her drug revelations and Salomon was stripped of her ‘mother of year title’ when she was ‘caught’ smoking whilst pregnant.
Stacey Solomon Brand Ambassador for Iceland
Smoking whilst pregnant – Iceland stands by the young mum despite public outcries

A representative of Iceland said in March:
“Stacey has proved to be very popular with our customers over the last 18 months. We understand she deeply regrets the embarrassment she has caused with her recent actions but we are also aware that she has significantly reduced the number of cigarettes she smokes.
“Stacey tells us she is seeking medical advice to help her stop smoking and we remain fully supportive of her during this present time and going forward.”
Kate Moss Brand Ambassador of Burberry
Dropped because of drugs… Kate Moss lost her role as Burberry model in 2005

Some other less fortunate brand partnerships included Garry Glitter and National Rail and Kate Moss and Burberry who dropped her following her drug scandal.
Going back to the Santander advert, in light of all the issues with banking, even if Hamilton was still winning every race, I am not sure it is the best message to invest money and effort in being associated with Formula One at this time of financial difficulty.
Whilst other banks drum home their messages about security and responsibility, ‘In Control’ and ‘Pole Position’ seem to be missing their point a bit… Let’s hope they can recover their brand message as well as their credit rating. It may take more than showing a race driver to regain the trust of businesses in the UK.

brand advertising, Brand ambassador

A Purely Pure Brand Ad – And Why It Works

20120509-204401.jpg

If you didn’t know this brand, you’d be none the wiser having read this advert. It is as such a lovely example for why this type of advertising can only work for established brands or those who can pre-empt or follow-up with a campaign that creates the connection and link to the brand and product.
It also showcases how it has become common practice for companies to utilise charities to make a statement, show that they care, support and ‘give back’ — the essence of corporate responsibility.
For this particular brand it works because it doesn’t try too hard, it doesn’t even attempt to obviously mix this fundraising initiative with messages about their product directly, and it visually speaks the language of the brand, adding to its story and its roots rather than trying to be controversial/contradicting for the sake of some short lived attention.
Even in their choice of charity, the brand positions itself among a certain demographic and engages without pushing the product directly.
That’s the magic adverts as good as this one come with in the long-run.
Something to aim for…

advertising, Branding

Coca Cola – A Brand That Pulls Its Socks Up…

The Diet Coke brand s on the move. A few months ago it was London Fashion Week.

diet coke and lipstick
At Boots as a freebie, the lip gloss was one promotion linking diet coke to the world of fashion and beauty.

fashion week cans 2012
Wild inside... some funky designs for the diet coke cans

fashion shoot
Positioning the brand in the fashion scene.

Now it is the launch of the Jean Paul Gaultier bottles for diet coke that is in the news. The ‘Madonna’ inspired designs position the brand as a cool accessory, which reminds me once again of the FiloFax strategy to use a designer to create a special collection for the rather traditional brand.
jean paul 02
Gaultier 01
Diet-Coke-by-Jean-Paul-Gaultier3
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq8OKMw6c7I&w=560&h=315]
When looking at the different bottle designs and musing over the undoubtedly super versatile history of the brand, I remembered a scene from Strictly Ballroom that may have been the brand’s first exploration of the fashion subject – check out the socks! Almost as eccentric as the  ‘The Cure’ Love Song where they have socks hanging up in a cave.
Coca-Cola-Strictly-Ballroom
Product placement with a touch of fashion... foreboding the brand's strategy of 2012?

Here is a video of the whole scene. Obviously unintentionally, in light of the news and fashion hype surrounding the brand this just makes me smile.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRx0b993Lj4&w=560&h=315]

advertising, Funny, packaging

A Brand Advert to DIY For

Just a quick one really. I am not a regular TV advertising watcher, but when I came across the recent B&Q ad, I thought it is a great example for the difference between big brand advertising and direct response adverts.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abU4PFYFeXI?rel=0]
The ad focuses purely on the emotional connection with the brand. Helping you say ‘I did that’ is such a strong summary of what a home improvement company can strive for. It works because we all know that B&Q is about DIY, about paints, wood, screws and wallpaper, about tools and garden accessories. If we didn’t, the ad may look pretty, but we’d be missing out on all those messages that describe what B&Q actually offers.

advertising, brand advertising

Seeing Double – and More…

I like this ad. It’s very simple, very local and very clear. It’s the kind of direct response advert that tries to be a brand advert without being too clever and without losing the message. What I like most about it though – and I have no idea if this was intentional – is the fact that, as my dear husband pointed out, for the past few months there has always been a glasses ad there from Specsavers or Vision Express
Estate Agent Green
Whether it was an intended pun or just pure coincidence, it is still a good example of brand advertising that works. And whilst I am not saying that the colours, the type, the logo or the ‘glasses oval’ are the best this business can do for its brand, they have achieved a clearer message than a lot of ads I have walked passed on that corner.

advertising, Funny

SME Branding Lesson #12 – To Brand or Not to Brand…

… advertise that is the question.

I recently came across an article written by a marketing expert that suggests SMEs spending time and money on branding really are wasting their time. As I read on, I realised that he may have simplified the subject and based his conclusion on comparing brand advertising versus direct response advertising as parts of a marketing strategy for SMEs.
Pretty much all major fashion, lifestyle and consumer goods brands practice a mixture of both, but we probably mostly remember them for their brand advertisements.  Distinct imagery, a clever tag line, sometimes just an image and a logo – welcome to the very different sibling of  direct response advertising.

Miu Miu Advertising Campaign
Showcasing the brand. Then the product.

It’s an investment. It’s not instant gratification. It’s hard to track and hard to justify, but it seems to be working for the big boys. So why shouldn’t SMEs do the same?
Brand advertising is not meant to sell a product or service directly to a potential customer. Brand advertising skillfully nurtures potential buyers by keeping your name and what your business stands for in the mind of the consumers so when they eventually get to make a buying decisions, your brand is one of the few they will consider.
As such, it may take months for a campaign to show results. Equally, it will take repeated appearances of adverts – but in my mind most importantly, companies that successfully use brand advertising have spent years if not decades building up a public perception of their brand and their values so now they ‘simply’ have to reinforce this perception and introduce the next generation of customers to their brand.
I believe this is the major reason why it won”t work as effectively for local SMEs as a means of getting new business. Even if you had the money to place large double spread adverts in the local paper with little more than your logo and strap line on, chances are, people just won’t know your brand enough to understand.

A Case of Benetton

Benetton baby brand advert
Not seen before. In the 90s this had shock value. And it positioned the Benetton brand.

In 1993, clothing company Benetton launched a campaign for their new range featuring images such as a ‘branded’ HIV victim, a newborn, a guy on death row, a dying seagull bathed in black oil, soldier’s graves – basically anything you and I may consider boarder line fascinating / scandalous / tasteless.
Benetton HIV ad
Talking about tabu subjects when nobody else did. The Benetton brand had their own strategy for leaving an impression

Benetton have continued over the years to use their brand to raise awareness of social and environmental issues. They are doing it again now with their ‘UNHATE‘ campaign featuring politicians kissing. Somewhat easier to digest than those older campaigns, they still use shock to create attention for their brand.
Benetton UnHate Merkel Brand Advert
Just one of the series of adverts featuring kissing politicians. In Germany, we called it the 'Bruderkuss' and it was for real!

However, they don’t exclusively advertise like that. There are also specific sub brand advertising campaigns featuring clothes. Brightly coloured, fun and happy – a stark contrast to their other campaigns.
Benetton brand advert
Bright is beautiful. A lighter advertising campaign by Benetton.

What Benetton have achieved is to create an almost instinctual understanding within us about what they represent. This didn’t happen just by placing a series of brand adverts. It’s the result of lots of background activity to instill their values and opinions in the public mind – be it on the environment, RFID technology and Turkish child labour or denim sand blasting practice.
Without the strength and backup of a global advertising campaign programme that runs over many months and communicates your business clearly to the masses, your money will probably be better spent in a more direct approach to gaining new customers.

Creatively Direct

I guess one way to distinguish direct response from brand advertising is the more explicit connection between the advert and the product or service. There may be an offer or incentive, there may be a clear call to action, a listing of features or a value proposition and a strong emphasis on communicating the selling points/differentiation from competitors.
That does not mean it has to be or appear boring, with lots of copy and little ‘white space’ to let the brand identity speak as well as the product. There are some amazing direct response campaigns out there and the web hosts perhaps far more than print advertising at the moment because of the immediacy of possible reactions a mouse click away.
tontine pillow adverts
Levis_curve_1
Dove Direct response ad

Tridos direct response ad

Out of the Question

Going back to the earlier statement of branding being a waste of time for SMEs, I think nothing could be further from the truth. (I have actually just recently written about why I believe SMEs should bother to spend time and money on branding.)
Whilst SMEs may benefit easier and more measurably from response-driven advertising, it’s the branding activities that do the heavy-lifting, that establish a business in the mind of the consumer, influencing buying and response decisions.
Relying on direct sales marketing alone is short sighted. You only need one new local player on the market who is mastering their brand management and without having invested in creating loyalty to your brand, they have every opportunity to take over your position.
A thought-through strategy to get your business present on the market and positioned where you want it to be is as important as the right mixture of branding and marketing activities. You may not be a global brand, but there are lots of local small business brands that shine and there is no reason why yours can’t be one of them.

advertising, Brand Strategy, Branding, SME

No Feast for Fastfood Superbrands

No McDonalds or BurgerKing
"In our house, no meals from McDonald's or Burger King are allowed. We ask you for your understanding and to refrain from any consumption of the corresponding types of food"

McDonald’s and Burger King may be the fast food super giants that open new restaurants  here, there and everywhere (1,300 McDonald’s restaurants are planned for 2012 – see article in RTT News), but they are brands that are still culturally controversial and their acceptance is debatable.
Here is just one quite refreshing sign that family life and fast food don’t go together – Maxxi is Thuringia’s largest softplay centre with a lot of footfall from toddlers, school kids and their parents. What’s significant is that other food is allowed, so the ‘discrimination’ is clearly brand specific.
It will take more than adding some green and some poignant advertising slogans to change the perception of those businesses and their culinary value.

advertising, attitude, brand

SME Branding Lesson #6 – Be Incredibly Credible

Nanoblur brand advert
Buy this… because 45 people have said so.

We are all just too familiar with the tempting voice of adverts and the seductive messages of point of sale installations that convince us to part with our money and feel good about it. This is one of the finest artforms of brand advertising and marketing – but there is also the danger to turn an incredible statement into a incredibly laughable one that could have the opposite effect.
I am not saying that nanoblur is not working or not flying off the shelves at Boots, but their small print had the opposite effect of reassuring and supporting their sales pitch. 45 people tested it and therefore it must be true that it makes skin flawless in seconds? Would it really have cost them that much to at least do 100? Better more? (I have no idea about clinical studies so perhaps it is unachievable for brands to do that but it seems such a small number of people, I wonder if they were better off making their statement a bit less incredible but not having to spoil it with ASA ruling copy that makes it sound a touch ridiculous.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGD_pxuHhwM]
The Vauxhall Lifetime Warranty adverts sparked off complaints about being misleading and were subsequently forced to change their campaign following a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Quite a different area of ‘business’, the church of Nottingham had to change a claim they were making in one of their flyers.
Nottingham Church Leaflet
Claiming the un-claimable.

Dennis Penaluna from the Nottingham Secular Society said he was shocked by the leaflet.
“I couldn’t believe the overarching, ridiculous, unfounded claims they were making. They can’t be substantiated,” he said. “It’s a dangerous nonsense. People who are ill or vulnerable can be easily persuaded. They will grasp at anything.”
Read an article about this on the bbc news website.
Another brand that promised more than it could keep is Baby Einstein, a Disney product extension targeting babies and toddlers giving parents the idea that the DVDs are educational. “There is evidence to show that screen based activity is bad for the brain.” says Pippa Smith, founder of lobby group Mediamarch. The company decided to offer parents a re-fund for DVDs purchased in the last 5 years – certainly not a great indicator for success.
babyeinstein logo
Disputed educational tool

Nurture brand
Unsubstantiated claims of health benefits in formula

Similarly, Heinz was reprimanded following ‘ridiculous claims’ in their infant formula ads. They said that its product could support the growth of infant brains, bodies and immune systems. The ad voiced that each child needs a “special combination of nutrients to sustain the incredible growth in its brain, body and immune system.” It added that Heinz had produced Nurture specifically in order to “provide for those three essential aspects of growth.” The commercial concluded by saying that Nurture would help “nourish, protect and develop your baby.”
The ASA rejected Heinz’s claims and ruled that the advert falsely implied specific health benefits instead of general nutritional content. The ASA said: “We concluded, therefore, that the claim was unsubstantiated and the ad was unacceptable.”
So, it seems that whilst it is understandably tempting to use provocative and attention-grabbing headlines in brand advertising, there are a few things to bear in mind.

  • Be realistic about what you are promising and what you can deliver
  • Don’t rely on great statements without backing them up with great evidence
  • Don’t patronise your customers – respect their knowledge and experience even if you are the expert in your field
  • Use marketing methods, such as money back guarantees, as a way to instill confidence in a purchase
  • Be clear, simple and concise in your brand messages and offerings (KISS your Brand)
  • Be creative in your copy. In fact, be amazing. Use engaging details to tell your brand story and shine a spotlight on how your brand is different – but be honest

I may be on my own feeling like I am being taken for a fool with the ‘nanoblur 10 years younger claim’, but if I part with £20 for a small tub of face cream, I would prefer to be reassured by more than a busload of people. As it is, the product has settled as nanoblurb in my mind and makes me smile, but not buy it.

attitude, brand management, Brand Strategy, differentiation, SME

Hanging in there – an eye catching brand advertising campaign by German magazine Wirtschaftswoche

Wirtschaftswoche brand logo
It certainly did make me stop and look twice. They were looking pretty realistic from afar. Two men hanging either side of a poster. On closer inspection it was revealed that they were of course just dummies, but it all tied nicely together and reminded me of the Economist brand ads, but taken to a more physical level.

Wirtschaftswoche Brand Advert
Roughly translates to: 'He who wants to stay on top, has to read'

Wirtschaftswoche brand advert two man hanging on poster
The posters themselves are positioned in view of business travellers

Just another lovely example of a brand not shying away from trying a different approach in their advertising and marketing. And with the posters positioned near the Lufthansa business class check in, they did everything possible to catch the eye of the magazine’s target subscribers. We like…

Funny

Hello 2012 – Bye Bye Adam and Jane

It has been reported that Adam and Jane are to be dropped as the characters of the BT commercials. The family campaign was launched in 2005 and the actors have since been part of 40 ads together – sharing life, move house, break up and get married.
A summary of the story so far…
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOmdapO7BME&w=560&h=315]
The first ad
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ4LylqQ0_w&w=420&h=315]
Heart to Heart
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5bkniCUAow&w=560&h=315]
The little Surprise
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_tGduIg-S0&w=560&h=315]
The Big Day
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze6z9bY5790&w=560&h=315]
The Wedding Dance
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3VW5P93Uec&w=560&h=315]
Oooh, they will be missed! Back then, it was such a refreshing concept for a brand ad campaign. It evolved with new technology and social media to engage customers; quite a case study.
It actually reminds me of another all time favourite – from the Yellow Pages – though theirs was sadly just a one-off.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdnmiRPjcAI&w=420&h=315]

advertising, family campaign, heart to heart, wedding dance

Great Framework…

Whilst I will always be the first one to point out amateurish signage or posters in shop windows as detrimental to a brand, I did have to smile about this one. It’s nothing special, but somehow it just works being subtle and a bit ‘Smile in the Mind’.
I like!

marketing

Relax – Without a Seatbelt.

20110820-091525.jpg
Jo Frost would stop the car and explain to the dad that this is unacceptable. The ASA would be on their backs for displaying dangerous driving. If anyone other than my very observant husband noticed that the child in this Holiday Inn Express brand advert is no way wearing a seatbelt, this may even become another notch in the belt of banned advertisement enforcers in our PC state… Made me chuckle.

Funny

The one that got away…

… not from the ASA, just from my earlier blog post of banned ads.
Paddy Power

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEmA_QF30GI?rel=0&w=560&h=349]
And for good measure, a Mercedes Benz E-Class commercial.
 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l38blGqVeHc?rel=0&w=425&h=349]

Funny

ASA – Death of the Ads?

I am certainly not an every day advertising viewer, but when I do watch programmes that feature commercials, I rather enjoy the good, the bad and the ugly. Having (a long time ago) studied advertising and art direction myself, it is still a bit of a secret passion of mine so I like to remember our crits at Central St Martins taking apart the latest TV and movie ads and separating the ‘death by committee’ ones from the ‘created by a genius’ ones.
I guess we could have introduced another category – Death by ASA (or selected UK complainers).
So, here is a small selection of recent(ish) ASA victims. Does being forced to be ‘pc’ take the spice out of being creative? It certainly adds some strange flavours!
Vauxhall Lifetime Warranty
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2GpJDtiSfg&w=560&h=349]
“The ASA requested that a small number of amendments to the advertising creative should be made to clarify the terms and conditions. In line with this ruling, the Vauxhall Lifetime Warranty Advertising creative was amended in line with ASA recommendations prior to Christmas and this very successful campaign continues to run on all media platforms.”
Well, I wonder how Bill Nighey reacted when he was asked to re-record those lines to conform with ASA guidelines. I can almost hear a smirk in his voice. Probably just me…
Ladbrokes Shark Ad
Another one that got the chop was this Ladbrokes betting ad. You can read about the tragedy of this award-winning ad here.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtKC0b2SReM&w=560&h=349]
“We believe the ads are compliant as they are funny, humorous ads and no-one would aspire to the reckless behaviour seen in the ad, because it is so ludicrous. ”
Cactus Kid advert
32 complaints halted the commercials for Oasis fruit drink because they are “offensive” and “irresponsible”. Viewers complained the adverts condoned teenage pregnancy and under-age sex. The BBC article can be read here.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygernzmjcG0&w=560&h=349]
 
Spot a Ginger in the Dark

Virgin media ad banned by ASA
ASA sees Red of Ginger advert by Virgin Media

I missed these and I can only find the press ad or still – if anyone has the video, please let me know! The Guardian article features a shot from the campaign that was deemed insulting to red haired people.
An Oldie – Mr Kipling “nativity”…
The old BBC article describes the issues surrounding a Mr Kipling ad back in 2005.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tus8s2mKGME?rel=0&w=425&h=349]
More than 800 people objected to the advert for Mr Kipling which Christians claimed mocked the birth of Jesus.
And a Newbie…
Last week, the ASA banned the latest ads from Loreal due to too much photoshop work. This one is certainly not a funny one as such – or a creative one – but more of a political controversy with MP Jo Swinson making a stand for the rest of us wrinkly ageing beings…
Loreal Ad banned
Brushed up a bit too much for the UK public

So here goes a short collection of more or less funny banned adverts. And I didn’t include the most complained about ad in 2010 (the one with the blind footballers and that poor cat) simply because whilst no animals were harmed, it does make me wince…
Would I have complained about any of them? Not really. Do the work for the brands? We’ll never know – but they have certainly got the publicity banned or not…

Funny

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