Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category
Last night I went along to the Revolution Awards, celebrating all things digital. And I ended up chatting to one of Britain’s top marketers. I won’t divulge his name, but it’s safe to say he’s the man behind some of the best-known ads in the UK of the past few years and has a pretty formidable track record across the industry.
So naturally, I decided to probe him a bit for what he really thinks about the agencies that he’s worked with. And after a few glasses of wine, he was more than forthcoming. In no particular order:
1. The best you can hope for from an agency is a couple of good ideas a year. Often you won’t even get that. And he’s talking about some of the best agencies in London when he says that – BBH and Dare are two he mentioned.
2. BBH are ‘difficult to work with’, but obviously get results.
3. He really didn’t think much of Rapp – ‘you’ll be waiting a long time to get a good idea out of them’. They are ‘just a machine’.
3. Ogilvy are another agency he thinks are all mouth and no trousers. And they should never have moved to Canary Wharf.
4. JWT are now a very weak agency in his opinion. In fact, he questioned WPP’s takeover strategy, saying it seems to have created big, bland networks.
5. One of his biggest complaints was the sheer lack of talent within agencies. There are normally only a handful of people in an agency he’d actually want to work with. That’s a common complaint, and the reason agencies are such brittle businesses – a couple of important people moves and they can be in real trouble.
6. Media agencies could have cornered the digital space (a couple of Revolution Awards actually went to media shops). But they’re not smart enough to see the opportunity.
Pretty damning stuff, really.
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Interesting interview with Cheil’s Bruce Haines in today’s Media, talking about the plans for UK agency BMB, which the company purchased in 2008.
Haines says the Korean company has decided against launching BMB in Singapore, opting instead for Mumbai as a first port of call for the agency in Asia, with Shanghai and Sydney possible follow-ups:
“We need to invest prudently and to grow new acquisitions in markets where we’d have the best chance. So we changed our minds on Singapore but we could re-visit this.”
“We were also mindful of the way agencies had tried to enter the market here. That’s where our attention moved to Mumbai as our first stop for Asia. We are considering Shanghai and certainly Sydney as a next stop. Those markets themselves are so substantial that I think it will give us a better chance. We are in heavy discussions at the moment.”
Mumbai’s an interesting choice. There’ll certainly be plenty of business flying around, but it will end up a very India-focused office. If you look at micro-networks like BBH and Iris, they’ve set up shop in Singapore first and done a good job at expanding their model. Simply because Singapore is so small, these agencies quickly adopt a multinational outlook.
But Cheil is already in Singapore, and Thailand too now. And this begs the question, is BMB there to ‘fill in the gaps’ in the Cheil network, or is it a separate agency within a holding company model that has to live or die without the crutch of the Samsung account (Cheil is owned by Samsung)? Haines points to the latter in the piece, and I’m pretty sure I know which one the guys at BMB would prefer – their website makes no mention of their link to Cheil at all. Are they ashamed?
The decision to expand BMB (and possibly do the same to Barbarian Group) marks Cheil out from Japan’s Dentsu. Both have traditionally been huge players at home but have not set the world alight overseas – Dentsu has ended up with a patchwork of joint ventures, stakes and even the odd wholly owned overseas agency, but the decisions are still made in Tokyo and none of this has been properly knitted together in a network.
Cheil seems to have decided that to expand overseas, it needs not only to buy overseas firms, but to rely on its acquisitions to do the expansion for it (a recognition that Western companies find it easier to do this, perhaps?)
It’s worth seeing whether BMB’s expansion ends up fitting round Cheil, or whether the company’s bid to recast itself as a holding group will run as far as allowing the two businesses to compete in the same markets. This will tell us a lot about the type of company Cheil really wants to be.
Kung hei fat choy, as they say in Hong Kong. That’s happy new year, as Sunday marked the start of the year of the tiger.
People in the West don’t really get what a big deal Chinese New Year is – a cross between Christmas and New Year with a dose of astrology thrown in for good measure. It’s really interesting in China especially, as it sees hundreds of millions of city-dwelling workers trek back home (sometimes thousands of miles) to celebrate. It’s the planet’s biggest voluntary migration. An estimated 2.54 billion journeys will be made this CNY.
So it’s no surprise that brands have been looking into how best to approach the festival. With so much goodwill going round, it should be a perfect time to do a bit of brand-building. And the good news for brands has been that TV plays a big role in the festivities – the annual CCTV gala, a variety show of often questionable acts on state TV, is the biggest television – and, therefore, advertising – event of the year. CCTV claims 50% of households watch it.
But the last few years have seen brands become more adventurous. And rightly so – this year the internet appears to have played a bigger role in CNY entertainment. There was a great piece on Media’s website on marketing during CNY. It pointed out how important work on transport media is during CNY (think of all those journeys). It also pointed out the importance of returning urban workers as brand ambassadors. And it pointed out that the further south you go, the fewer people watch the CCTV gala.
The work to keep an eye on is Coca-Cola’s. Last year it took a bold approach to CNY marketing by trying to create a whole new ritual around it. The brand introduced the ‘First Coke of the Year’ – the idea that you should pick somebody special with whom to share your first bottle of Coke of the lunar new year. The campaign involved TV – and in particular an ad starring former champion hurdler and Chinese celebrity Liu Xiang. Importantly, it also had a strong online element, with e-cards that could be sent to friends. The take-up was very impressive and seemed to lay the foundations for an ongoing initiative as Coke sought to take a degree of ownership of CNY – much like it has with Christmas in the West.
This year it has shifted even more of its focus online, with a campaign offering consumers the chance to customise a festive bottle label. The campaign involves uploads of new year greetings and celebrity involvement from Taiwanese pop band Fahrenheit.
To be honest I was expecting a more obvious follow-up to First Coke of the Year – video upload contests are pretty standard in China these days. But either way, it’s worth checking on the results of this campaign over the next few weeks, as Coke seems to be the brand thinking most intently about CNY.