Digital PR, Marketing Thoughts

The R.O.A.D to a marketing edge in 2013

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There has never been a more exciting time for digital marketing. Brands can interact with audiences more immediately and on a deeper level than ever before in 2013 and beyond. Blah, blah, blah etc.  Okay, to cut to the chase. The four elements that marketeers will need to truly get to grips with are: real-time, open API’s, access to coding and data (Big Data). Yes, I’ve turned it into an acronym – it’s all about mastering the R.O.A.D.:

1. Real-time is what we see everyday on Twitter and other social media platforms, the ability to interact and share things with your audience at speed and scale.  In 2013, real-time will be being used by brands to actually solve problems for whole communities as they arise, rather than just to listen and respond on a trivial level.  Low-cost sensor networks will be increasingly adopted by brands to constantly feedback on product usage and brand interactions, allowing greater insights and responsiveness from marketeers.

2. Open API’s are when software can be accessed and used by anyone. For example, instead of playing with a Barclays’ Football app on your mobile, you could actually change and develop the app with Barclays’ blessing.  In 2013, brands will start to let developers get their hands on brand properties more and more; and effectively do the R&D on them.  This way brands will be able to innovate rapidly without employing huge teams, simply by stimulating and liberating the knowledge and skills of the “crowd”.  For example, eBay has APIs that allow developers to access their database so they can create new and innovative ways to buy and sell merchandise.

3. Access to coding entering the mainstream as a top trend for 2013, means brands will be offering up APIs that in a few years even kids who have been brought up using resources such as, will be able to use basing coding skills to develop and resell.  What this creates is fans working with brands (and for brands) all across the world because of the joy and utility of being granted open access.

1. Data, or rather “Big Data”. This is the phrase for all the gazillions of pieces of info that are collected on us everyday by brands and businesses; an overwhelming amount of data to do anything useful with, until now.  With more data now recorded digitally, new tools and specialist analysts rising up through the ranks, brands are finally able to sift through the mounds of data for actionable insights that are being used to:

  • create controlled experiments to predict the impact of business decisions
  • better tailor products and services more precisely to different customer demographics
  • drive new product innovations based on concrete data-driven feedback

Has your brand got the necessary talent to harvest the benefits of big data? It better start acquiring them in 2013, as according to McKinsey Global: “we estimate that a retailer using big data to the full has the potential to increase its operating margin by more than 60 percent”.

For more of this chatter on what 2013 holds, checkout the Inkling 2013 Trends Report:

Pop Culture

I’ll have that in LARGE

You just don’t see this every day… a GIANT Scalextric (being played at Three Mobile’s blogger meet-up event). Apparently to buy the circuit would cost £30,000 and one rather eccentric chap has all the rights to the creation of any other giant Scalextrics tracks.

Why you are here why not check out mind-controlled Scalextric!









Brand Campaigns, Digital PR, Marketing Thoughts

Great marketing: a well choreographed firework display

I made an analogy comparing social media engagement with a burning bonfire, getting hotter and hotter over time beneath the flashier pyrotechnics of the other marketing channels.  This got me thinking: if I were putting on a whole “marketing firework display” – using only digital methods with an unlimited budget – what might it look like?

So here goes…


Of course you must kick off the show with the rockets.  They are expensive, launch high into the air, can be seen and heard for miles, though short-lived, with an explosive culmination.  They are definitely impressive, they get you maximum attention for a short period and highlight what you are about.

Some examples:

Adidas France 3D mapping projection / Purpose: Jaw dropper / Why? Show the brand’s power

Desperadoes Beer YouTube Takeover / Purpose: Delight / Why? Show the brands attitude


They explode on the ground and often go off in a series.  These will get you a high degree of attention across one or a number of key locations and create a lot of talkability around them from the watching crowd.  It is the time in the campaign to re-grab the attention, to shout out loud!

Some examples:

Saving lives interactive billboard / Purpose: Chatter / Why? Awareness / engagement

Immaterials lights painting the wifi world /  Purpose: Chatter / Why? Awareness / re-evaluation

Times Square augmented reality billboard / Purpose: Chatter / Why? Awareness / re-evaluation

Smoke balls

Smoke balls, emit coloured smoke for a few seconds, creating a little mist before slowly clearing. At this stage of the campaign you want your consumer to just keep you in mind, to simply reinforce what has gone before.

Some examples:

Skittles Youtube Touch Ads / Purpose: Engagement / Why? Stay front of mind

Old Spice the winning phone-call / Purpose: Celebrate and re-engage / Why? Reinforce association with brand values

AXA interactive TV iad ad / Purpose: Demonstrate / Why? Encourage usage or deeper engagement


Sparklers are what’s called for next.  As what you want is longer-lasting attention and sustained interaction that is led by the consumers themselves, via the content and tools you have provided.

Some examples:

SAS Up For Grabs Facebook campaign / Purpose: Convert audience member to evangelist / Why? Peer to peer evangelisation / deeper engagement

YouTube launches Day in the Life Project / Purpose: Longer –term omni-presence of the brand / Why? Always front of mind / deeper engagement

GAP Born to Fit campaign / Purpose: Showcase collection / Why? Peer to peer evangelisation / deeper engagement

Salute shells and bonfire

Finally, end the show with a combination of Salute shells (they produce a quick flash followed by a very loud report) and the lighting of a bonfire.  In campaign terms these is where you now wish to convert a short-term fanbase to a longterm pseudo-database wanting to be connected with the brand for life.
Some examples:

The Real Life Like Coca Cola Village / Purpose: Deeper engagement / brand celebration / Why? Ongoing buzz and longer term connection

Through releasing a lot of new content and ongoing initiatives, the Facebook page clearly connects with their audience: their engagement rates are incredibly high

Skittle Fan Page / Purpose: Deeper engagement / Why? Longer term connection / customer base

So the finished Firework display below!

Now sit back and enjoy the show:

Brand Campaigns, Digital PR, jono, Marketing Thoughts

What I was getting up to the other night…

The Lucre Social Panel Debate:

“Social media can not be ignored, but marketing principles remain the same” was the overriding message at Lucre Social’s debate around the use of social media in the retail sector.

An audience of 40 delegates gathered at the Mandeville hotel in central London to discuss the topic with a panel of industry big hitters from Unilever, Saatchi & Saatchi and Yahoo! Europe/Fanshake.

A write up by Will Ockenden….

Jono Marcus, Group director of social marketing and online strategy, Lucre Social

Introducing the event, which was held to mark the official launch of Lucre Social, Jono kicked off proceedings by setting out his stall with a resounding ‘yes’ to the question; ‘is social media the most important marketing vehicle for retail in 2010?’. He talked about how traditional maketeers are simply trying to sell more and more to their customers, pushing their existing marketing channels harder and harder. Jono argued that a more effective approach is for brands to look at building a more long-term and ultimately rewarding relationship with their customers through social media.

He compared traditional ‘push’ marketing models as being like a firework display but social media like a bonfire, providing ongoing and continuous benefits, with a much more elastic, and long-term ROI.

He concluded by speaking about the need for retailers to view social media as a marketing investment, and not just a marketing spend, and emphasised that social media will gradually and increasingly become the most effective route because of the psychology of the age we are entering.

Asad Rehman, Unilever’s global planning director

Asad started by saying he originally wanted to argue ‘no’ to the question to spark debate but simply couldn’t find a convincing reason to do so. To highlight the power of social media in retail, he quoted a recent stat from Sage saying that as many as 71% of people coming through social media channels when visiting a retail site make a purchase, considerably more than direct visitors. Yet despite this, just 5% of the retailers interviewed in the study were willing to believe social media is an effective marketing tool, something Asad found disappointing.

He also spoke about how the basis of social media is nothing new, and that many of the existing marketing techniques used by retailers, such as CRM, loyalty schemes and referrals are essentially social in nature anyway. He concluded by speaking about the dearth of PR practitioners sufficiently experienced in social media, and how, like other emerging marketing disciplines, it’s important for retailers to not to be fazed by social media and that time is fast running out to move into this area.

Dana al Salem CEO of FanShake and founding member Yahoo! Europe

Dana took a slightly different approach and spoke about her own experiences of engaging with consumers through social media in the music industry, but how the lessons of engagement with young people – the so-called YGen – can be applied to other sectors, including retail.

She spoke about no matter how much things change in society, the more they stay the same, citing how events tend to repeat themselves, including natural disasters like 2009’s Hurricane Katrina and 1969’s Hurricane Camille, and the foreign war protests in 2007 mirroring the Vietnam protests of the late sixties.

Dana also talked about how the key to understanding where social media marketing is going is that people shouldn’t look forwards, but should in fact look backwards, with Hippies from the 60s and YGen sharing many of the same characteristics and preferences. This includes distrust of establishment, anti-war values, organic food and fashion consciousness.

Dana concluded by arguing that the way to reach the YGen is through empowerment and engagement, and no matter what sector, social media is the most targeted and effective route to go.

Toffael Rashid, Planning Director, Asia, Saatchi & Saatchi

Taking a more controversial approach was Toffael, who started his presentation with the statement: “Yes…but so what”. He talked about how the latest marketing buzz is just around the corner; at the start of his career it was around direct marketing, then ambient media, moving on to the internet in 2000. However, he argued that there is a common thread running through all of this; brands looking at ways to get closer to the consumer.

Toffael said things have not really changed, it’s just about applying the marketing principle basics; brands are built, and then those brands need to communicate their messages through channels, and social media is just another channel.

He concluded by saying that while social media is undoubtedly amazing, what retailers are going to have to get better at is predicting what the next emotional insight among consumers is, and how to capitalise on this. And like the other speakers, he spoke about how one thing has never changed; brands, as they always have, need to understand what consumer insights are out there and what trends they can leverage to their benefit.

Speaking about the event, Asad Rehman said: “The event was great and was a change from the ubiquitous talking heads, one-way presentations. I enjoyed the panel debate format; the delegates clearly knew their stuff which meant some really lively debate, with the speaker’s views very much challenged, which is always a good thing. A particular lively discussion was around the potential for a shower brand to create interesting and ‘sexy’ content in the social space, the consensus being that yes, they could.”

Jono Marcus, said: “Feedback from the event has been great and it’s been the perfect forum to officially launch Lucre Social. Dana, Asad and Toffael added some real weight behind the debate and brought distinctive perspectives to the argument. My takeout is simple; retailers cannot ignore social media. But it’s important to not be scared, it’s not a different form of marketing, but rather another tool to use.”

Visit next week for a video of the key note speeches at the event.


Turning it all off for the Hmoon

So blackberry turned off and battery allowed to run down…

350__1_blackberry8100_2Mobile being turned off…


Facebook will go unlogged onto…

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Last blog post…

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Maybe just the odd glance at Tweetdeck…

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Below is a film shared by my colleague Steve during one of our weekly sessions looking at what is cool in the world of digital… check it out before you decide if me cutting myself off is a good move.

See you post Honeymoon!


She is here, Miss Darcey Marcus!

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During a meeting on mobile phone brand Xs online influencer engagement program I got the news that I was an uncle. Needless to say the details of the online influencer program seemed pretty much the most important thing in the world the previous minute- the minute before I received that bombshell, or should I say “birthshell”. There are very few things that could possibly compete with the joy I felt knowing my older brother was at that very moment holding his new baby, my niece.


Digital PR, Marketing Thoughts

Quite Ready?

When will the UK really be ready for QR codes? I had a meeting today with an expert in mobile phone marketing tools and QR. This is three years on from my first meeting with someone about using barcodes (QR codes) scannable by mobile phones to download apps and content as part of wider marketing campaigns.

It works simply, your brand puts up posters advertising lets say their latest car model and using a smart phone you take a picture of a barcode on the ad and suddenly on your phone appears a promotional video of the car being test driven.  A great way and fun way to direct your audience to more detailed brand messaging online, give them content incentives to drive brand affinity and to encourage virality of content.

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When QR is art

So why in 2009 am I sitting in a pretty similar meeting to one I sat in in 2006? Especially when 70% of Japanese people use QR codes, even putting them on gravestones to direct mourners to online obituary pages. Even many business cards there are nothing more than QR codes!

The answer maybe that where the US goes the UK follows and it has taken a long time for Amerca to get enthusiastic about QR codes- but now it seems they are, so maybe at last we will too. As more and more people are whipping iphones out their back pockets and smart phones (or is that just us media types?) the number of people able to make use of QR codes in the UK is growing. Certainly QR codes are used in the UK, such as in a Sun newpaper campaign fronted by Kelly Brook and last year Pepsi started to print QR codes on over 400 million UK bottles and cans of Pepsi Max. So I don’t think I will be having the same meeting in 2013 or even 2011 about the potential of adopting QR codes into campaigns, because the UK now has the phones and the example of the US to start QRs tipping into the mainstream of marketing.

You can create your own QR code at and if you want to go really creative with you can get your QR code designed into your furniture at  Otherwise you can always get always get a QR tatoo…