Just stolen from Lauren Conrad’s Pinterest feed.
So bang on.
Just stolen from Lauren Conrad’s Pinterest feed.
So bang on.
How did this little 150 second clip gain nearly 1 million views? And what other agency can claim that from what is essentially a promotional video?
Quite simply because there is something for everyone: People love the cats, brand-side marketers enjoy the mockery of typical agency showreel videos and every other marketing consultancy around the world is wishing they thought of the idea themselves.
In terms of a strategy for new business, this ticks every box:
Having worked in a marketing consultancy for five years (and loved it), creative and innovative though it was, the trappings of the agency showreel are fairly universal. Catvertising is full of these and I love John St. for being so openly willing to poke fun, laughing at themselves and their industry nuances in the process. As cutting-edge as they may be, too many agencies can take themselves so seriously, that by blinding prospective clients with zingy quotes, mind-boggling stats and mind map flowcharts, they alienate more than they do attract.
What John St. seem to be saying is ‘we know our stuff, but we’re not afraid to have fun. We don’t need whizz-bang strategy documents, Venn diagrams uncovering the ‘sweet spot’ or graphical displays of consumer behaviour to get our message across. We create content that sticks, and by doing so attract the very audience we set out to reach. We entertain, and we deliver. And we love cats.’
Who wouldn’t hire them?
So this evening, when I started to pick up tweets about Jack Willy for the first time – a brand new charity initiative in support of prostate cancer awareness – I initially thought, bravo JW for having enough gumption and banter around their own brand values to create a tongue-in-cheek charity campaign.
Or so I thought.
After a bit of digging on the site it became apparent that they are ‘BTW, NOT Jack Wills‘ and are instead playing on the renowned middle class clothing brand’s wide appeal. And, in for a penny, in for a pound, the site invokes JW’s look, feel, font, tag-line (‘outfitters for the general’ – rather than gentry), image/model look style and web design.
They’re hot on Twitter, they engage with their posse of fans on Facebook – they even run an ‘Ambassador‘ program whereby enthusiastic consumers of their clothing can earn themselves free stash by being photographed in the gear and posting their shots back to the brand. Any of this sounding familiar?
Now whether you’re a fan of the original brand or not, this led me to thinking: as a brand manager or owner, what would I do? I’m in charge of a hugely successful, internationally expanding, young, influential fashion label and a charity initiative sets up for a very worthy cause, riding on the coat tails of my brand’s image (and poking a little fun in its ribs at the same time). How do I feel about this? What are my options?
I figure they are, namely, these:
1) Do nothing
2) Do nothing – yet. Ride it out. It’s a start-up so wait and see what kind of following it gets (and what comments you get as a result) before making any move. (It’s got them this blog post for a start…)
3) Be reactively supportive. When fans, consumers or press ask the question, ‘So whad’ya make of all this Jack Willy stuff then?’, respond with a reasonably non-committal ‘We think their cause is an incredibly worthy one and we wish them all the best.’ Or even something a tad more engaged such as ‘and we’re honoured they saw the value in the Jack Wills brand to help promote awareness for their campaign’. But kept fairly at arm’s length and not promoting an association
4) Be proactively supportive. Seek out the organisers and reach out to them. Discover more about the set-up and explore the option of an official partnership. In an if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em kinda way. Cross-promotion could work in your favour (though on first impression from the site, significantly TBC whether the Jack Willy gang would want an official JW stamp or seal of approval.)
5) Be privately opposed. The public voice decries any association with the charity – no negative comments per se, but making it clear there is no connection. Privately, approach with a view to enforcing a stronger message of complete independence from the JW brand in order to put an end to the passing off (which, frankly, it undeniably is as it took me at least 5 minutes to find the ‘NOT Jack Wills’ statement. Granted it was mobile web, but I’m not exactly web illiterate)
6) Be publicly opposed. Dangerous territory, but if a brand feels its values have been compromised, sometimes it should go all out to protect those. Harder if it’s a worthy cause, but if it were an organisation of deplorable or questionable (or competitive) intent, a brand wouldn’t hesitate. Just because it’s for ‘charidee’, should it act differently?
Of course, it might all be a double bluff, and maybe the Northern Irish founders really do have a link to JW. Maybe Pete Williams gave his blessing. But it doesn’t look that way to me. And whatever stance the brand takes, they should decide a position fast because the questions will come – if they haven’t already.
So what would I do? I’d rule out #6 immediately – the cause is far too worthy and the objective well-meaning to bring in the heavies. For the time being, I’d also avoid #5, but consider a conversation in this territory later down the line if a supportive angle is decided against. Your brand equity is your livelihood – regardless of the well-meaning nature of potential impostors.
It’s probably too early days for #4 and you would need buy-in and weighty consideration from all stake-holders within the organisation before going down this route. But it’s not out of the question. So I think my take would be a combination of #2 and #3 – with a skew towards the latter. As a light-hearted, fun-loving brand, unofficially supporting these guys would be a strong way to demonstrate not taking yourselves too seriously.
Whatever happens, don’t do #1. Even if, at the very least, you prepare an internal reactive brand position to respond to queries in this area. Silence is damaging – especially for a brand whose lifeblood is its highly engaged dialogue with its avid fan base. They will ask, and a brand always needs a (consistent) answer.
And in the meantime, go buy yourself a Jack Willy hoodie. Go on. It’s for a good cause.
Tom Hodgkinson in today’s Style magazine in the Sunday Times raises some interesting challenges to the way we spend our spare time in the modern world. Are we making the most of it? Or are we squandering what little time we do have to ourselves, falling into the trappings of convenience?
His opening lines below and, as they did for me, may ring scarily true:
“What do you do in your spare time? Maybe you indulge your precious moments of leisure with a £5 bottle of Chilean Sauvignon blanc and a DVD box set of Mad Men or The Wire. Or do you find yourself in front of a Champions League game, or the Brits, or the latest episode of Glee, with your phone locked to Twitter in one hand, the remote control in the other? Or are you on Facebook status-updating, or discussing house prices and schools over a “kitchen supper”, or getting competitive over YouTube — who has the funniest clips? (I always feel a bit disappointed when other people don’t seem to find the clips I like as funny as I do. But anyway.) Perhaps you might go for a little eBay surfing or browsing on Net-a-porter. Later, you’ll nod off with your new Stieg Larsson book.
Yes, well, it’s the modern world, and I suppose we have to live with it. But couldn’t we be doing something more satisfying in our spare time?”
Ringing any bells? Tom offers a plethora of more worthwhile, simple pursuits that might offer more fruitful development of the mind and body, without huge expense or dramatic lifestyle change – such as learning to sing or sew, getting into the garden, learning a language or how to play an instrument, or simply drinking good wine.
I’m also reading Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows at the moment – a fascinating and worthwhile read about how the universal expansion of the internet into every facet of our daily lives is essentially re-shaping the way our brains work. We have smaller attention spans; we find it harder to get lost in lengthy pieces of text; we jump from one communication to another and depend on a constant feed of information to keep us occupied.
Perhaps we could do with putting down the mobile, switching off the TV and shutting down the inbox every now and then. Sometimes it’s tiny changes that can dramatically change our quality of life. Food for thought.
A night of success for David Fincher’s Facebook movie The Social Network dominated the movie award winners at last night’s ceremony in L.A, including the immensely talented Aaron Sorkin picking up his much-deserved screenplay award. As for the Televisual side of things, Glee stormed it for the second year running, with the adorable Chris Colfer picking up his Best Supporting Actor award on his first nomination:
MOTION PICTURE CATEGORIES:
BEST MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
The Social Network
BEST MOTION PICTURE, MUSICAL OR COMEDY
The Kids Are All Right
FOREIGN LANGUAGE PICTURE
In a Better World, Denmark
David Fincher, The Social Network
BEST DRAMATIC ACTOR
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
BEST DRAMATIC ACTRESS
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
BEST ACTOR, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version
BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Toy Story 3
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
‘You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me’ (music and lyrics by Diane Warren), Burlesque
DRAMATIC TV SERIES
BEST ACTOR, TV DRAMA
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
BEST ACTRESS, TV DRAMA
Katy Sagal, Sons of Anarchy
TV SERIES, MUSICAL OR COMEDY
BEST ACTOR, TV MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
BEST ACTRESS, TV MUSICAL OR COMEDY
Laura Linney, The Big C
BEST MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR A MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Claire Danes, Temple Grandin
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR A MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Al Pacino, You Don’t Know Jack
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Jane Lynch, Glee
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Chris Colfer, Glee
CECIL B DEMILLE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Robert De Niro
I’ve only just come across this letter, but apparently it was first published in the New York Times about three years ago. Not quite sure why it is undergoing a social media resurgence, but such is the way of the viral.
No one seems to know which Bank was the target, nor if it really was a 98 year old woman who wrote it – but as urban myths go, it’s pretty entertaining. And we’ve all been stuck on the end of endless button-pushing automated telephone services – so it’s not hard to imagine.
I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement, which, I admit, has been in place for only thirty eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.
My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, but when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate. Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.
Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof. In due course, I will issue your employee with PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:
1. To make an appointment to see me.
2. To query a missing payment.
3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7. To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is required.
A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)
8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through to 8.
9. To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.
Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.
May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.
Your Humble Client
I spend a good deal of my working life managing the varied personalities of professional sports people, largely in their capacity as some form of brand ambassador.
I’m fortunate to work with a host of exceptionally talented and good natured individuals, and for the most part every bit the professional media spokesperson.
A media appearance going to plan without a hitch is a rare thing, and whilst we don’t like to laugh at others’ misfortune, this latest video to surface from Credit Suisse of the World’s top two tennis stars is honestly pretty funny. All carefully briefed messages fly out of the window and replaced by endless fits of giggles.
But surely, I hear you cry, this is just an intentional promotional mechanic by one of their sponsors (or the event sponsor in this case)? Just a shameless plug for publicity?
It’s interesting for me, because money can’t buy a viral of this nature. I am absolutely convinced it is entirely natural and uncontrollable. Anyone who has worked with professional athletes in a similar capacity knows that asking them to act rarely delivers any effective results (Gillette’s recent Federer ‘trick-shot’ viral just about scraped by), and so any outtakes are a total bonus. Unless Ken Dodd was carefully positioned behind them, branding his famed feather duster, that laughter is 100% genuine.
So while credit should be given where credit’s due, Credit Suisse undeniably got seriously lucky with this, getting more publicity for the RF Foundation’s charity tennis match than they could have dreamed possible (871,000 views at the time of blogging). The two guys played off each other beautifully and what probably started life as a straightforward interview soon became an instantly infectious viral. Job done.
‘Digital IS the future’. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve heard these words spoken in the last few years. So much so that it’s almost become a meaningless comment on something that is self-evident. Largely because we can conclude digital is the future, if only inasmuch as digital is also the present.
Clearly, there is an enormous amount of knowledge to be had out there about working in the digital space, and harnessing the power of digital assets to work better in other more traditional avenues. No longer can we sweep a generalising brush-stroke to divide between Murdoch’s ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’. It is everyone’s responsibility to get digitally savvy. Fast.
But when digital courses, seminars and qualifications are ten-a-penny for businesses who can afford to train their people in the relevant disciplines, it becomes easy to overlook those for whom acquiring those skills is remarkably more difficult. It may be because the base level of knowledge is not enough to reach the next level. Or the funding isn’t available to implement the training. Or they just don’t know what skill development is required to take their business further.
Enter Media Trust. The UK’s leading communications charity (one of our charity partners on The Marketing Academy as one of the Donate28 programme) is launching a national campaign to encourage more media professionals with digital skills to volunteer and share their expertise with the charities, communities and young people who need them.
Great plan. And to get people engaged, they’ve developed a funky little Facebook application to gauge your ‘Digital IQ’. I tried it out earlier, and lo, the results:
So try it out, and if you feel that the world would be a better place if we could share our digital knowledge then get involved and find out how to volunteer.
The partnership sees two very different brands come together to provide the NFL’s female audience base with some cute apparel, bringing new customers to the VS PINK brand, and introducing NFL colours into the wardrobes of PINK customers all over the U.S. Everybody wins.
Forever a fan of the PINK VS range, and always on the look-out for cute girlified NFL wear, this was pretty exciting news for my Wednesday morning.
In turns out that two of the lovely VS Angels premiered a couple of pieces back in April, providing some welcome entertainment for the players and entourages in attendance at the NFL Draft at Radio City in New York. And today, the full collection launches online and in store.
The VS deal covers 13 teams from the NFL: Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers.
The PINK brand has always had a huge presence in the social media space, with very active Twitter and Facebook portals, and they maximised the use of this yesterday in building buzz for the collection’s launch today. In a Draft-like fashion, each team that had been chosen as part of the range was unveiled gradually over the course of the day between 9am and 9pm, and announced with an image on the Facebook page. Each of the 13 images generated thousands of ‘like’s and hundreds of comments.
As always, the brand is pretty difficult to purchase in the U.K. and I should imagine it is unlikely that the NFL collection will reach the few concessions that do retail over here. A shame, given the hard work that the NFL is doing to develop and grow its international fan-base. In recent years,VS has been able to offer international shipping (starting at $30 for UK customers) but you’re better off hitting up your U.S. buddies to do a bit of personal shopping on your behalf.
Though sadly, not one of our adopted NFL ‘home’ teams over here have had their franchise picked up. For the past 3 years, the big NFL party has come to London town in October offering us a regular season game at Wembley. This year is no different with the San Francisco 49ers generously offering us one of their home fixtures as they take on the Denver Broncos on October 31st. While VS PINK has developed the Bronco’s colours into their range, the 49ers were not included. Neither were the Dolphins, the Saints or the Bucs.
That aside, when the collection launches online later today, I will be first in line for a browse. Game on.