Friday, February 29, 2008

Nivea's Anti-Cellulite Billboard

The billboard reads “Reduce the bumps” and features an image of the product, and the whole poster is covered in bubble wrap. Clever!

Coke Zero's Extreme Advertising

Coke Zero has launched in Brazil an extreme guerrilla marketing campaign using people’s tongues.

Several shops in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Salvador give free piercings with the brand logo, with the only condition of taking pictures to publish on the website which redirects to a Google Picasa Album set.

The campaign is backed up by a TV ad featuring talking tongues and walking eyeballs...

Advice to Live By

Marissa Mayer helps run one of the world's most innovative companies by being an amazing talent finder. As Google's vice-president for search products and user experience, she is the last stop before founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin on the way to final approval of any new feature that appears on the Web's most valuable real estate.

She has been said to thrive because she has an “obsessive fastidiousness” in hiring, is a fanatical social networker in management and in day to day life, and is objective in critiquing of new ideas.

FastCompany featured her words of advice on the subject of “innovation”, which not only offers a little glimpse of what it is like to be a Googler, but also how management can get the best out of their staff.

The most interesting point for me was her idea on creativity and constraints. She argues that “creativity loves constraints”. It may seem slightly counter-intuitive at first, but she went on to explain that by making the task a challenge, with set rules, inspired people will always find ways to make it happen. Bending rules to achieve a task is taking the easy way out.

BMW's Hydrogen 7

Being immersed in cutting edge technology must be one of the many perks of attending the TED conference. Being able to drive one of twenty BMW Hydrogen 7’s must be even more special. Helen Walters, the editor of BusinessWeek Innovations gives us her account on how it went.

The cars have been immersed in high-society since birth, it would seem. They were also used to chauffeur stars like Brad Pitt and George Clooney on the launch of Oceans 13 in China.

Here's the Hydrogen 7 ad:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Global Trust in Advertising

A Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey reveals that consumers trust other consumers far more than they trust any forms of advertising. Newspapers and consumers’ opinions posted online make up the remainder of the top three most trusted forms of advertising.

Technologically Driven Design Concepts

Another interesting concept to come out of the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition in New York is the new Nokia “Morph” concept phone. The Morph is made of flexible nanotechnology that can be bent, folded, and twisted into radically different shapes, allowing for new applications, such as being worn around the wrist. On top of that, the concept device is self-cleaning and transparent throughout.

Nokia says it’ll take at least 7 years before the concept phone makes it to the retailers, and even then, it will initially only be available to the highest end of the market.

The use of nanotechnology is clearly increasing in popularity amongst cutting edge designers. Italian car designer Leonardo Fioravanti (of Pininfarina fame) has developed a prototype car, called the Hydra, with a windshield that doesn’t need wipers and brushes away water and dirt all by itself.

Social Networking Preferences

A map of infographic that shows the top social networks across the world, published by French paper Le Monde, highlights the vast differences when it comes to popular social networks.

Interesting to see that MySpace, which leads the social networking scene in North America, doesn't feature in Africa at all...

Future Toys

TrendCentral points us to 4 key trends to emerge from the Annual International Toy Fair, held in New York earlier this month.

From cultural heritage dolls to eco-conscious toy trucks, you can find them all here.

Pawn Your Oscar

Are you in possession of an Oscar statuette and just can’t find space for it on your cabinet?

Luxist provides 3 ways you can get rid of your little gold man:

Resale value for Oscars won after 1950 are limited because the Academy makes all winning celebrities sign an agreement that if they want to sell they have to first offer the statue back to them for R7.50.

Based on the current price of the gold, if melted down each Oscar is worth about R3700.

If sold on the sly (or for pre-1950 Oscars that can be sold in the open) big-name Oscars will easily clear R500000.

Latest Talks of TED

So the TED conference kicked off yesterday in Monterey. BusinessWeek Innovations Editor Helen Walters is at the conference providing snippets of info and insights into this year’s conference via her blog.

Unless you have a spare $33,535 (which is reportedly what the last remaining ticket was auctioned off for on E-Bay), excluding flight and accommodation, you’ll have to either take Helen Walter’s word for it, or wait until the videos are released on TED’s official website.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Advice For Digital Marketers

The digital marketing landscape is rapidly changing. Consumers are less loyal to brands and more trusting of one another as a result of disruptive traditional marketing methods. Digital marketers must be careful not to make the same mistakes.

Daniel Stein, CEO of digital content marketing firm, EVB, San Francisco gives us his top do’s and don’ts

Best Practices:
1) Simplicity: make it quick & easy;
2) Participation: get people involved;
3) Personalisation: let people make it their own;
4) Unexpected: surprise people;
5) Humor/Entertainment: evoke an emotion;
6) Distribution: use ALL media to tell a story;
7) Communities: make the consumer your marketer;
8) Portability: weave your content into their digital life.

Worst Practices:
1) Lengthy introductions: get to the point or users moves on;
2) Overcomplicating: more technology isn't always better; know your audience;
3) Replication of traditional ads: consumers are savvy and avoid disruptive ads
4) Expecting people care about your brand: if you don’t bring a bottle of wine to the party, you won’t be invited back;
5) Forcing your brand: consumers are in control, so let them come to you.

Dress Your Alfa

Alfa Romeo has been in collaboration with Intersection Magazine to promote the Brera.

The campaign was created by ad agency Intersection’s internal creative dept, Traffic, which specialises in collaborations with automotive brands, creating bespoke events, campaigns and concepts, capturing the essence of each client, not to mention exploiting the desirable demographic of Intersection’s readership.

The concept of the promotion is called “Car Covers”. Six to
p designers from around the world are creating a cover for the Brera. The results are to be exhibited world-wide and aim to promote the vehicle, as well as showcasing the individual designers’ talents and styles.

The exhibition is to be unveiled in Paris next week, coinciding with the launch of the Paris Fashion Week.

Hip-Hop Re-invention

The relationship between hip-hop’s most well-know rappers and luxury brands is clearly evolving. A couple of years ago, hip-hop artists signed merchandising deals with various fashion brands, although the relationships were not always successful.

With 50 Cent’s G-Unit line and Eminem’s Shady brand now out of business, rappers are consolidating their relationship with more aspirational products.

Rappers are beginning to leverage their business acumen to have a stronger role at the heart of luxury brands, not just as consumers, but increasingly as consultants, and with a role to deliver a new generation of consumers to brands that are in various stages of familiarity with a less traditional consumer base.

Those that are most effective are, unsurprisingly, the most visible and those with the biggest cross-over appeal; Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and P Diddy.

Here are some newer ways hip-hop artists are involving themselves with luxury brands:
  • As a luxury spokesperson – Kanye West and Absolut Vodka
  • As an ad agency owner – Jay-Z
  • As a creative director – Pharrell Williams and Louis Vuitton

Famous Technophobes

The International Herald Tribune provides a sneak peek into why many of the premium fashion brands have such a poor online marketing presence.

Here are some of their findings:

  • Domenico Dolce never touches a computer
  • Miuccia Prada can’t use Photoshop
  • Paul Smith doesn’t have a cellphone
  • Donatella Versace “doesn’t do the internet”
  • Karl Lagerfeld can’t use an iPod
  • Marc Jacobs' a bit more advanced in that he can use an iPod, but he's still learning to sync it.
  • Yves Carcelle, CEO, Louis Vuitton, answers queries with hand-written notes

Branded Entertainment

Food and beverage giant Pepsi has announced it will create America’s largest Ferris wheel in New Jersey. The 87,5 meter tall “Pepsi-Globe” will be incorporated into Meadowlands Xanadu, a unique sports, leisure, shopping and family entertainment destination in East Rutherford.

Pepsi will offer unique interactive experiences during the Pepsi Globe ride, which will last approximately 25 minutes for a full revolution and offer sweeping vistas of the New York skyline and the Hudson River. Groups of up to 20 visitors each will enter 26 glass-enclosed, climate controlled capsules for the ride of a lifetime.

The Pepsi Globe will be green powered year round, with energy obtained through the purchase of wind power credits from a Texas generating plant, and it will be at least partially made from recycled materials.

Pop-Up Boutique Hotel

Prefabricated apartments and housing were post Second World War inventions aimed at providing a source of affordable housing for returning soldiers. Many of these structures still stand today in various cities around the world and many of them, I’m sure many would agree, are aesthetically challenged.

Enter architect Tim Pyne. He has plans to open Britain’s first up-market prefab hotel in East London by the end of the year, called the “M-Hotel”. Allegedly, the building can be moved or taken apart and used as separate units for sheltered or temporary housing elsewhere, if needed. The structure can also be made bigger if there’s a demand for more hotel space, by just adding more modules.

Pyne has previously built container-style apartment units which slot together to make a block, which was developed in 2001.

Combating The PVR Threat

It looks like a lot of advertisers are rolling out ways to combat TV viewers' ability to fast forward ads. The ABC network are increasing their distributing of some prime time shows such as Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty via video-on-demand, but with an important clause attached - that the viewer's ability to fast forward through the ads are disabled.

AdAge published an article that referred to a study which was carried out by an Australian professor called Duane Varan . The professor and his staff, along with a consortium of influential marketers, the likes of which include Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, CBS, ESPN, Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, Starcom MediaVest Group and Omnicom Group's OMD, have run more than 6,500 viewing sessions in which members from a panel of more than 3,000 people are subjected to new TV ads with concepts that demand more concentration and involvement.

The research, code named Beyond :30", also sought to find out the exact commercial lengths and placements within breaks as well as how many viewings of a commercial it might take before someone clicks in response to a TV ad's invitation. Furthermore, the study aims to provide insights as to how consumers react to similar executions flighted across multiple channels, including video games, cell phones, websites and MP3 players.

As the backers have funded the project at a price tag of around $1 million a year since 2005, the results are not available immediately to the public. At least it gives some of us an excuse to watch more ESPN to see how it should be done!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Innovate With Google SA

Google launched almost 10 years ago with an ambitious and altruistic goal of making all information in the world available and easily accessible online. To date, only 20% of all the information is searchable online, suggesting that Google still has quite a way to go. Having said that, they were recently rated by Fast Company as the most innovative company in the world so the company must be heading in the right direction.

With only 8% of the South African population not suffering from Internet-lessness at the end of 2007, the recently launched Google SA seems to have quite a challenge on its hands.

The company is racing to migrate traditional internet services to the far more densely populated cellphone market and predict that more people would soon use its services via cellphones than through computers.

Sadly, have you ever tried to access the internet via GPRS on your cellphone? It’s a painfully slow and frustrating process, where your requested information is not displayed in a user-friendly way, if at all. I would imagine technology such as HSDPA and 3G would make this process a lot less irritating, but the pricing of the handsets with such capabilities makes the latter options unavailable for the majority of South Africans.

It seems that Google are utilising SMS technology as a first port-of-call and the search process could involve entering key search words by SMS or speaking into the phone to tell the search engine what you are looking for. Users should also be able to consult maps on their phones and have the directions sent to them via SMS, when the technology becomes available.

Yahoo has already got a head start in the SA market with their oneSearch software, thus providing Google with yet another obstacle in their bid to connect South Africans to the net.

By their own admission, Google SA realise that they have an uphill task on their hands. But knowing their track record, I wouldn’t bet against them succeeding.

The Next Big Small-Phone?

Based on a design philosophy that is the polar opposite to that of cellular phone leaders Nokia, Modu Mobile has ditched the “everything-built-in” approach and has left the choice up to the consumers.

The manufacturer allows for a basic cellphone to be adapted and changed whenever it suits the owner, by simply exchanging the outer cover of the phone. Added functionality and unique aesthetics, without having to spend thousands on a completely new phone are main reasons why Modu have adopted this approach.

The other great part about this deal is the ability to link your Modu cellphone into different modu-enabled consumer electronics, or "modu mates", enabling access to your car stereos, photo frames and entertainment systems. It has been reported that the likes of Blaupunkt, Universal Music, and SanDisk already onboard with this initiative.

The company have also recently built the world’s smallest cellphone, according to the Guinness Book of Records and was launched in the US late in 2007. No word yet as to whether the phone will be available in SA anytime soon.

Presenting Data in a New Light

BusinessWeek has an article on an interesting art and design display currently running at the New York Museum of Modern Art. The show, called "Design and the Elastic Mind," features 200 projects by a host of international designers and firms, and gives a nod to "hot" technologies and new economic opportunities and consumer products. Innovative processes represented in the exhibition including nanotechnology, design for new markets in developing.

"Lightweeds" is one of the many striking example of data visualization by young Dutch designer Simon Heijdens on display. The work features light projections of silhouettes of giant weeds with realistic stalks, stems, leaves, and buds.

The plant images are produced by a software program developed by the artist himself, and the computer it runs on collects live weather data via a sensor outside the museum. The plants' size, shape, and movement reflect real-life conditions outdoors.

The piece is one of the many incredible examples of how design can turn raw data into a display that communicates information in a compelling and engaging manner.
Businesses would be wise to pay attention to hip designers such as Heijdens, who also could have ideas for intriguing retail displays or arresting ways to communicate other data such as stock market fluctuations.

The next time you’re faced with another excel spreadsheet full of figures and data, perhaps you can draw some inspiration from the work on display at Design and the Elastic Mind and present your findings in more fascinating ways than on various bar graphs...

Trend-Setting Pepsi

According to TNS Worldpanel, cola volumes in the U.K. fell 2.3% in 2007. Coca Cola is the market leader in the U.K., but PepsiCo has had the edge when it comes to innovation. Sugar-free Pepsi Max is Pepsi's most successful drink in the U.K.

Coca-Cola's new products, however, have had less of an impact. Coke Zero, launched in July 2006 to rival Pepsi Max, has just 5.3% of the market compared with 7.9% for Pepsi Max, according to Nielsen.

The decline in sales of carbonated drinks in the UK seems to be induced by a steady increase in demand for more natural products. Organic foods and fair trade endorsed products are the norm for many UK shoppers. With increased demand, it’s only natural for brands to premium-ise their more natural product offerings and yet again, it seems that Pepsi’s ahead of Coca-Cola on the trend curve.

Pepsi has launched Pepsi Raw in certain UK test markets and is meant to be a healthier alternative to the traditional cola. A type of Pepsi made from only "naturally sourced" ingredients, it taps into demand for premium, less-processed products.

The product contains zero preservatives, colourants or flavourants. Instead the ingredients of Pepsi Raw consist of apple extract, sparkling water, grapes, coffee leaf and raw cane sugar. The result is a drink that is slightly paler and less fizzy than ordinary Pepsi.

Pepsi themselves have said that Pepsi Raw is the most significant innovation from Pepsi in the past decade and a half. If the product does prove to be a hit, an international roll-out will be undertaken.

Pepsi is supporting the launch with a press and outdoor campaign by Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO starting on March 3. The ads show naked people overlooking a city, their backs inscribed with slogans such as "Go Raw as nature intended" and "Do what comes naturally." There is also a website, As the campaign will only officially launch in early March, the site is currently pretty bare.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Does Product Placement Pay?

New York Times has an interesting interactive map showing how movies have fared at the box office between 1986 and 2007, and just how long – or short-lived – the hype was. The income from all the older movies has been adjusted according to inflation, therefore allowing for a fair comparison. The site also has a search function, allowing you to see how well your favourite movie did at the box office and beyond.

Interestingly, Casino Royale, the film with the largest product endorsement deal in the history of movie marketing, seemed to have fared worse than A Night at the Museum, earning only between $100 and $250 million for a much shorter period of time.

Flying Private

In an increasingly globalised world, the need for reliable transportation is becoming more and more crucial for business travelers. According to Forbes, it is said that there are over 166 million people who make use of the aviation industry annually, of which two-thirds travel for business purposes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's research shows that only 80% of flights were on time in November 2007. This dismal performance by commercial airline transporters have increasingly encouraged the more affluent to invest in private air travel.

For those who fly privately, price is often no object. Take, for example, a hedge fund manager who recently hired the Long Island, N.Y.-based Talon Air to fly him and five guests to Las Vegas on a Gulfstream IV.

The party began their four-day trip with a catered meal from the exclusive Japanese restaurant Nobu. They relaxed in reclining leather seats and sped toward Sin City at 570 miles per hour. On the return flight, they again enjoyed a Nobu meal, this one prepared at the Las Vegas restaurant.

The total cost? $86,000, which included a $5,000 bill for catering.

Space, distance and safety are hallmarks of private planes, but today there are also added perks like gourmet catering, in-flight yoga and massages, as well as state-of-the-art entertainment.

Duncan Aviation, a US-based company, that specialises in retrofitting older jets, has installed in its jets each of these features and more, including liquid-crystal display screens up to 42 inches and custom dividers for those who desire privacy. Modifications aren't cheap, though. The divider can cost anywhere from $70,000 to $90,000, the espresso machine from $12,000 to $20,000, the TV system $20,000 and wireless Internet $500,000.

Despite the cringe-worthy price tags of these options, they pale in comparison to the original cost of the plane, which can easily start at $10 million.

Red Bull Artvertising

The Red Bull Art of Can Exhibit will run from July 11 - 26, 2008 at the Galleria in
Houston, Texas. The contest has been held successfully in various parts of the world since 1997, including South Africa.

The works the artists put together in the past are truly amazing. They have worked the silver and blue aluminium cans - as per the stipulated contest rules - into the most magnificent sculptures. It’s a great way to make use of the caffeine-fueled energy for potential entrants, and it’s also a great way for Red Bull to immediately sell more cans of energy drinks to potential contestants, I suppose.

Registration starts April 8, 2008. To enter, go and register on their site.

Innovative Luxury

Agenda Inc. is a global consulting department based in San Francisco and Paris and specialises in innovative luxury strategy. On their very enviable list of clients are premium brands such as Dom Perignon, Louis Vuitton, Lexus and Dior.

Last week, they had a posting which made reference to Fast Company’s recently published annual list of the world’s most innovative companies.

Commenting on the list, AgedaInc stated that apart from Herman Miller and BMW, it seems that “luxury is not yet synonymous with innovation. It is with campaigns like “Kinetic Sculptures” execution that BMW proves its mettle…”

A campaign conceptualised and produced by Ireland/Davenport, now being adopted by BMW elsewhere in the world. We’re exceptionally proud.

Useful Facebook Gifts

Useful Facebook gifts? Nope, it's not an oxymoron. Facebook gifts are about to get real!

Facebook users know that you can give your friends virtual gifts, but for the first time, there are gifts that can be redeemed in real life for real products.
Mars Snackfood UK is the first marketer to use this product through an application called Celebrate. When users buy each other a virtual candy bar using PayPal, the recipient also receives a voucher ID code on their cell phone which can be scanned in stores to redeem the real thing.

“We are very excited to be involved with this new ground-breaking initiative with Facebook,” said Sara Miles of Mars Snackfood UK.

“It will drive traffic and incremental confectionery sales to our PayPoint retail partners in a way that is at the forefront of the digital revolution, whilst offering our consumers a different way of sending confectionery gifts to friends and family,” she said.

The Beginning of Neuro-Marketing?

How did you feel after watching that Coc-Cola ad? Warm and fuzzy? Love it? Can't wait to get your hands on the closest ice-cold bottle of Coca-Cola? According to some YouTube addicts, the ad was described with comments ranging from "easily the best commercial of the Super Bowl" to "one of my favourite Super Bowl commercials ever..."

Can it be that the success of the spot is due more to research methods than a wonderful creative concept and execution? EmSense, a high-tech firm that has recently introduced a portable and non-intrusive measurement device aimed at tracking brain waves and biological data, would certainly argue so.

Coca-Cola became a client of EmSense late in 2007 to help the company decide which two TV ads to place in the Super Bowl. It was the company's first use of brainwave and biometric data to help select and edit their Super Bowl ads. In the weeks leading up to the game, over a dozen new ads were crafted and the final two spots were chosen based on EmSense's neuroscience research.

According to Katie Bayne, CMO of Coca-Cola North America, neuro-science techniques help marketers more accurately decipher consumers' feelings because they measure physical and emotional responses as they occur, as opposed to having people remember or interpret their feelings after the fact when doing things like surveys and focus groups.

Luxury Brand Marketing

Here's a very insightful luxury brand marketing presentation I came across on Slideshare.

Definitely something to be learnt for all marketers!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Yahoo's 3D News Globe

Yahoo’s latest effort at closing the gap between themselves and Google is a 3-D news/mapping web application that allows for the viewer to follow the day’s stories as they happen across the globe.

The application combines Yahoo News RSS feeds with a flash-based 3-D globe that seeks to offer users with an interactive element as they browse through the news. This rotating globe contains red markers indicating where the news story is taking place. The reader can then decide which story he/she wants to follow by rotating the globe with the mouse. Clicking on one of the markers will create a short synopsis of the news story and the size of the marker differs depending on the magnitude of what is being reported.

I went onto
NewsGlobe briefly and while it was mildly entertaining watching the Globe being slowly populated with stories, I was rather disappointed to see that there was not one single story from the entire African continent...

Trashy Nike

Nike’s latest line of shoe design is literally garbage. Called “Nike Trash Talk”, the shoes are actually made from manufacturing wastes, which makes their crisp, white design even more amazing.

The upper of the shoe is pieced together from leather and synthetic leather waste from the factory floor using zig-zag stitching, and the mid-sole uses scrap-ground foam from factory production. The sole uses environmentally-preferred rubber and incorporates Nike Grind material from footwear outer-sole manufacturing waste.

The laces, inner-lining and even the shoe box itself are made of fully recycled material.

Even the laces and sockliners are eco-friendly and, of course, the shoe boxes they come in will be made of fully recycled cardboard.

Inside The Google Machine

Google co-founders shared a little of the inner-workings of Google, as well as some of their innovations and success stories.

Click here to view one of the most powerful and inspirational TED talks

New iPhone Ad

The latest iPhone commercial is called “The Great Thing” and emphasizes how truly fantastic it is to be able to carry internet access with you wherever you go.

Watch out for the spoof, it’s bound to be available shortly (if not already)…

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Design For Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss is inviting submissions worldwide for various designs that are inspired by and featuring the classic Hugo Boss Man bottle.

The site provides various templates allowing you to select the background, bottles with designs, swirls and colour overlays; a cityscape and slogans or city names. It's also a highly functional and intuitive site, allowing a lay-person such as myself to participate without too much difficulty.
Above is my inspired design...

Your designs can be submitted and viewed in a gallery, or sent to friends (along with the obligatory 'why don't you give it a try as well' message). While on the site you can also vote for other entries, with the winners being announced in April. The top ten in each of the fourty rounds will each receive a cash prize of $500 and the winner will have their creation featured in a print magazine.

There is no V in Wodka

W + K Amsterdam is behind a black & white and rather gloomy online project to promote Polish vodka brand Wodka Wyborowa. The site revolves around a “W movement” claiming there is no “v” in the vodka distilled by Wyborowa. The original vodka comes from Poland, and it’s spelled with the “W”. All the content of the site explores this idea through various characters and features. It’s takes a while for the features to load, but the site is interesting enough to be explored.

Discovery "Shark Week" Promotion

Google Expanding Online Video Advertising

Google hopes to spread its pre-roll video ad alternatives from YouTube to other Web sites. Six months after it introduced overlay ads -- transparent, Flash-animated placements that appear at the bottom fifth of the screen while a video plays -- to YouTube, Google is starting to extend the format to sites in its content network.

In-stream spots, running either before or after content, remain the dominant form of advertising video. But Google has held that these ads provide a poor user experience because they are overly disruptive. In its first foray into video ads in 2006, it offered video ads within banner placements on partner sites, but those are all user-initiated. For advertising within streams, Google said overlay ads occupy a middle ground of interruption and invitation, communicating a message while inviting a user to click for a longer or more interactive experience.

Google is also supplementing the animated overlay ads with text versions that it will cull from its several hundred thousand advertisers. Those will be priced on a cost-per-click basis, while the animated overlays get cost-per-thousand rates that has been quoted as typically near $20.

Google executives would not say how much reach its network has, only that it would encompass "hundreds of millions" of streams.

Advertisers can target their placements either by specific site or channel. Google is also targeting based on the page's content, video title and other hints it can glean of the video's subject matter.

Advice for Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Starbucks’ stock fell 42% in 2007, the worst annual performance since the shares were first sold to the public in June 1992 at $17 each. Now that the Chairman Howard Schultz has taken back the reins from ousted CEO James Donald, his first major task is a detailed rescue plan for the brand, which is set to be presented in March.

Businessweek published an article with advice for Howard Schultz from thought-leaders in fields varying from design to technology. To read more, click here.

Kraft's Crafty Marketing Efforts

Tassimo, a hot beverage system brand produced by Kraft Foods in the US, has branched out into online and alternative marketing efforts, with the help of Ogilvy.

They have created a series of Webisodes titled “Who Hired Bob?” The comedy series follows the misadventures of Bob, a quirky character in an office setting who obsesses over the little things that have nothing to do with work. Bob loves his Tassimo machine to the point of being fanatic about it. Each episode is said to contain one “Tassimo Moment”, where an acknowledgment to the audience that the Webisodes are a marketing tool.

The online series is a result of a marketing innovation fund that Kraft instituted to experiment with different forms of marketing.

The initial two Webisodes, which are available for viewing at, have three acts each, with viewers able to choose between one of two options at the end of Acts I and Acts II as to what happens next to Bob. Each act runs about two minutes for a total of six minutes per Webisode. Viewers can also submit stories of "Bob-like" characters in their own workplaces. The winning viewer submission will be filmed as the next "Bobisode."

To market the series, Tassimo and Ogilvy created a 30-second trailer and bought media on Google's AdSense network. Joseph Frydl, director of Ogilvy's branded content and entertainment group, said he expects 70 million impressions during the course of a month on financial, travel, food and special interest sites. He also expects word of mouth, YouTube and other video-based sites to help get the word out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In an Absolut World

When Absolut entered the U.S. market in 1979, it essentially created the superpremium vodka category, and its ads -- which merged its iconic bottle with equally iconic art-world figures -- were ideal for the brand's upmarket image.

Why in the world would a company, with one of the most iconic print campaigns throughout advertising history based on various iterations of their distinct bottle, want to change their advertising strategy after having established an almost cult-like following?

According to Ian Crystal, Absolut's brand director, the vodka maker had been declining in the US market over the past few years. Furthermore, executives attributed Absolut's sluggishness as partially a result of an ad campaign that had fallen out of step with its product's place in the market.

But the past decade or so has seen an explosion of far-pricier brands such as Grey Goose, Belvedere, Chopin and others that have essentially relegated Absolut to midshelf status.

Enter "In an Absolut World". Spots on cable TV -- the brand's first major push into the medium -- depicted police fending off pillow-wielding rioters in an "Absolut World." Print ads showed Times Square filled with priceless artwork and pregnant men.

The "In an Absolut World" theme also ran worldwide: Visitors to Germany found airport taxi lines filled with Porsches, as well as an ATM that dispensed free money.

The results?

According to the company, global case shipments jumped 9%, and Absolut gained market share in the crowded and increasingly competitive U.S. market -- no easy feat for a mature brand trying to fend off an ever-expanding pool of upstarts.

Absolut wouldn't divulge details about 2008 plans, but said the campaign's executions would get "bigger and bolder."

Could we have the makings of yet another iconic campaign from the Vodka maker?

TAG Opens Their Watchmaking Museum

TAG Heuer has inaugurated its “TAG Heuer 360” Private Museum in a ceremony hosted by Formula One star Lewis Hamilton at the company's headquarters in La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland earlier this month.

Celebrating the 150 year history of the Swiss watchmaker, the facility combines striking circular architecture with a world first 360-degree conical movie screen that uses a battery of 12 computers processing over 1 million images to bring visitors a unique presentation celebrating the 150 year history of the Swiss watchmaker.

Built at the TAG Heuer headquarters, the eco-friendly architecture of the museum allows external and natural light to filter throughout the building from the entrance to the roof via the elevator tubes and the office windows.

"The unique combination of chronology, themes and legends with sensorial technologies make this museum a new milestone in TAG Heuer innovative history as well as in ways of envisioning 21st century museums as projection into the future rather than nostalgic glimpses into the past”, said Jean-Christophe Babin, TAG Heuer President & CEO.