Tag Archives: advertising

Personalised Marketing

Marketing as a discipline thrives on buzzwords, how many times have you heard or seen ‘Content is King’? ‘Big Data’? or even ‘nano-influencer’ or ‘geofencing’?

One term though has been consistent for a number of years and remains the Holy Grail for many a Marketer: Personalisation.

The body of evidence is clear, the more personalised marketing is, the more responsive it is, be that driving sales, enquiries or some other form of conversion.

This post is not about how to personalise per se, maybe that will be a later post, but it is about providing inspiration as there is growing ubiquity for meaningful and engaging personalisation in very simple, straightforward ways, often using nudge theory or our natural bias to make the ‘point’.

Let’s look at some examples;

Nike set the tone in 2014, a full 5 years ago now, but the benchmark it set has long lasting reach.  Nike are always a brand on the edge, one which concentrates on engaging its audience with quality marketing across the mix.

Their fitness app, and running monitoring / mapping have become a staple for Nike over the years but their use of personalisation in 2014 was ground breaking.  It ticked many a marketing box, but at its heart it is great creative execution harnessed to great data insight.

Simply, they crunched everyone’s training data from the year and created a personalised video, and then shared it with their users – easy and devastatingly simple. 

The personalisation aside – I liked the element of challenge added by Nike – a real life example of a well located ‘nudge’ and one where the context matches the theory neatly.

Have a look…

Spotify have been doing something similar and extended their idea in 2019 with some great engagement driven marketing that had two plays really … they created ‘my playlist for the year’ (see Nike inspiration) and then gave subscribers the opportunity to share their most listened to tracks and artists.

This is powerful and simple, and it was designed to enable everyone to share their own lists, and so support the bands and artists they love, the trick to success was making it very easy to download the visuals and then click to share.

This facilitated a broad engaging conversation between the artists and their fan base … and no doubt pushed streaming up at the same time.

Check out the detail here it is a great leveraging of the story bias … ignoring the cost of the subscription and crafting a story that you can share, and it plays a little, in the sharing element, to the confirmation bias we love as Marketers. This was noticeable to me as one of my top played artists in 2019 was Honeyblood, who shared lots of insta screen shots of people’s top 5s with them in it. This made me feel closer to the band and made me think I am listening to the ‘right’ band (they are great by the way, trust me).

The prompt for this post was the simple email shown below ..

How good did this make me feel! Yep, pretty smug as you can imagine.
It ignores the actual cost of my spend but focuses down simply on the amount I saved using their 20% off vouchers (whenever they come through).

I feel £97.30 richer, so it’s worked. On another level the Sparks card needs greater relevancy, something M&S have been open about. This use of data and the improved ‘birthday bonus discount’ are steps in the right direction in my view.

Perhaps the cutest personalisation I have seen for a while is from McDonalds. A simple app let you film your own living room and superimpose a reindeer – a lovely extension of the TV advertising running at the time featuring the carrot hungry reindeer. The idea being you can then share with your children as definitive proof Santa does exist!

This is a long term play; parents will think better of the brand and children will love it and, I would suggest, remember it as well.

As always please feel free to leave any comments on my post.

Paul Hemingway
20 January 2020

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Single Customer View post GDPR

The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) have led most companies to review not only their marketing consents and processes, but, based not least on the veritable explosion of requests in my email inbox just before, on and indeed after, May 25th 2018, to more fundamentally consider the state and value of data as an asset.

This is the real positive of the regulation in my opinion. I wonder if it may, in time, lead to a balance sheet thought around data equity in the same way as ‘Brand Equity’ was considered in the 90s as something that had a tangible and quantifiable GBP value.

The challenge facing marketers post GDPR strikes me as being initially straightforward, but time will tell if the impact of the changes makes this more complex.

In my view the single view of a customer (SCV) is becoming paramount in ensuring the valuable asset that is personal data, works for the benefit of the business concerned post GDPR, and does not adversely jar with customers. It is trying to create the dreaded ‘win win’ scenario in a landscape where the value paradigm has shifted significantly, and that is never an easy balance to strike.

In my view the twin and very simple benefits of a SCV of customers are:

the customer enjoys a consistent experience with the company concerned that they attach a value to, and
a ‘knowing’ personalisation level is possible and can be expressed in communication which the business can attach a value to (relating to relationship or sales and so on). The key word here for me is knowing.

The SCV should demonstrate the company knows the customer in a positive and unobtrusive manner. GDPR empowers the customer to manage their relationships more proactively and transparently. The value of an individual’s data to any company is more visible and obvious post regulation to the customer. For some the value of their data may be surprise, but the volume of email and white mail will have fuelled that understanding (or at least awareness) in a way that if not acknowledged is a risk for business success.

The emails, direct mail, calls and texts we have all received have created a long-term impact in changing the dynamic of the relationship, the paradigm shift is that SCV should now be read as Single Company View not single customer view: The dominant partner is now the more educated customer or prospect, one who will recognise on some level the value of their personal data.

To not recognise this shift is a high risk strategy for any data led business.  Customers are choosing to ‘freely’ interact with a company and this choice can be reversed easily and quickly if the company forgets the customer is dealing with a single company in that moment. If the SCV acronym we know and love as marketers is to stand, it must recognise the power shift to customers and be read as both single customer and single company view.

My thoughts on some post GDPR imperatives are below:

Seek to acknowledge the value of data
reassure the customer or prospect by dint of action, value offered and by not overusing the data. Thinking of the data as fragile and easily damaged is more likely to be a winning formula.

Make sure the personalisation is appropriate
a fine balance to strike and however good the marketing asset the best way to monitor this is likely to be opt out rates within the campaign decay curve and customer feedback. Thinking of the data as an asset to be retained for longer term value becomes more important, cherish it!

Make sure the personalisation has a test (and then test some more)
and use a control cell, this will give a quicker read on the level of personalisation that resonates and will protect the single view of the company by the customer (but make sure it is statistically significant).

Make the content rich and relevant and balance sales to service
Post GDPR service contacts can be an opportunity to drive marketing consent, but be careful, it is possible to damage consent levels if legitimate interest is abused for the sake of a quick sale. Remembering the customer may not have freely volunteered marketing consent for a reason …making the service contacts valuable may reverse that.

Remember the data has a value and that can be eroded
This mind-set change here is as important as thinking SCV is a single view of the company (in the moment) for the customer or prospect. Thinking of data like this should ensure the business considers its actions more deeply post GDPR and not lose long-term value by short termism.  Remember a chipped china cup might still function but it’s value is much less than the perfect version.

These thoughts are my own, and I would love to know yours, if you get chance send me a comment or two and thanks for reading.

Paul Hemingway
01 June 2018

Image courtesy of Pexels.com

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Brand development in California

On vacation in Cambria, California, last month I came across a lovely example of branding in action. One that I think so exemplifies certain areas of brand success and risk that it’s worth thinking about in some detail.

First of all some background:

Cambria is a lovely little seaside town in San Luis Osiba County in California, USA. It’s population is c6,000 but that is swelled somewhat during the summer season each year as surfers and ‘west coast road trippers’ use it as a stopping off point. It’s location next to William Randolph Hearst’s castle and Moonstone beach make it a great place to overnight.


Branding means many things to Marketers it has categories such as sub-brands, brand extensions, product as brand and so on. It is however, most Marketers believe, much more than mere communications and messages. It is an end to end experience of a company or in some cases of a product. For an example of the latter, think product as brand like Hoover or Google.

Town ownership or control by a family is somewhat more common than you think. In the UK we have Bournville the West Midlands town created by Cadbury’s for its workers and Port Sunlight on Merseyside, created by Lever Brothers. In the USA it is most common in agricultural or industrial towns. Wilson in Arkansas is one example – owned for 125 years by the Wilson family and run for years by Boss Lee (I’d like to apologise to his family if you now have an image of Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazard in your mind … I know I do). Interestingly it shares a common, strange, architectural preference for mock Tudor buildings with Cambria.

Oregon State University is in Corvallis, Oregon and has an enrolment that dwarves the population of Cambria at c27000+. It has a tradition grounded in agriculture and in developing sports stars – NBA, MLB and NFL especially. Significantly for this post it has extensive and significant levels of research funding.

Ok, so those four pieces of background information, seemingly disconnected are a simple set up to a story of The Linn family and Olallieberries in Cambria and their brand and the brand experience. I found it fascinating and I hope you do … It’s a tale of innovation, branding and marketing with lessons aplenty.

I am indebted to the Linn family for providing the following background to their story and how they have developed Cambria, their brand and their brand experience. I will summarise the story but you can find more information here.

IMG_0623 IMG_0624

In the early 1970s John and Renee Linn determined that they wanted to be farmers. It took a lot of hard work and planning to create the reality In 1977. The intervening period involved buying a gas station, finding a plot of land in Cambria during a visit for a friend’s wedding and stretching their finances to the limit. Their 5 year plan was coming together.

Farming is a tricky business and despite all of their graft and commitment, by 1979 things were becoming a little ‘sketchy’ as Californians are wont to say.

The turning point was turning the farm into a ‘pick your own’ concern, both vegetables and soft fruits. It was the latter that kick started the dynasty they have now created. At this point you know why I talked about Cambria.

To the University of Oregon now; in 1949 the University, funded by the US Dept of Agriculture developed the Olallieberry They are a cross of a Loganberry and a Youngberry, in essence 2/3rd blackberry and 1/3rd raspberry. The Linn family farm specialised in this crop, it took an innovation and turned it into a commercial success for them. It was, and still is, a rarity, so the competitive advantage and brand experience is fairly unique. It provided them with brand differentiation and a USP.  Now you know why I talked about the University of Oregon.

The Linn family has a heavy presence in Cambria – it has a Olallieberry monopoly and four distinct businesses – a cafe, a homewares store, a restaurant, and a gourmet foods business as well as their farm and farm shop. So a little way off town ownership but they are on their way I would contend. Now you know why I drew your attention to family owned towns.

f830b538858aa973eb2f6897fbcf6bb9 linn-s-fruit-bin-restaurant

So, to the brand lessons themselves.


It is clear that the choice of Olallieberry gives the family a clear and almost unique advantage. The soft fruit is still rare and it lends itself to multiple uses as well as supporting the core PYO business. This will allow pricing advantage and the development of a cult following; gold dust in engagement terms.


From the simple fruit comes jams, and other foodstuffs, the fruit pie is truly outstanding by the way,  I have first hand experience. The opportunity to build out into the deli and into gifts is natural and the restaurant is a clever way of offering Olallieberry gifts alongside fine dining. This increases the value engineering off a simple soft fruit crop. It also allows a degree of balance that smoothes the cropping season challenges (in income terms) across the year.

Interestingly I think the next category, whilst on the surface contradictory, is actually still supportive…


Simply, the law of branding contraction states that the greater the focus the brand becomes stronger. I would contend that in this instance the brand extensions reinforce the focus rather than take you down a riskier brand expansion route. The tightness of the extension and its roots mean the dominance gives a clear focus …


The brand dominates the town, it feeds off Cambria and Cambria feeds off it. The multiple family outlets, and the brand extension work to ensure the Linn family and the Olallieberry are synonymous with each other, interchangeable almost.


Clearly Olallieberry is a sacred word for the Linn family brand and the abbreviations, the pies and jams continually reinforce this. I am a big fan of the Primal Branding approach, and that theory from Patrick Hanlon, fits this brand really well: there is a clear creation or heritage story, obvious sacred words and Icons ie the berry itself. The development of a creed is inherent in the family’s decision to embrace farming and is central to its creation story.  Finally there is a clear use of the berry as an icon and that is reinforced with offers to have your photo taken with a life-size ‘cuddly’ Olallieberry at one of the family venues. The pie itself is an icon to and trades on the law of publicity…


Brands that are borne of publicity and word of mouth last longer and are generally more successful – as well as being very cost-effective in revenue to advertising cost terms. The publicity courted by the family on TV and entering it for accolades was a wise move.  It has allowed a supportive tribal following and enabled the brand to extend further by selling branded goods through other stores in wider California. The Food Network TV channel has been a rich seam, well mined.

This has also given rise to third-party brand credentials that are very believable…


The whole operation is driven by authenticity and the family connection and heritage story play well alongside the publicity to make this a very authentic brand. The understated packaging and shop fittings as well as the restaurant decor suit the town of Cambria and are not too modern or over designed, so they fit well with the brand rather than jar. There is a feeling of homespun authenticity that works really well.

I hope you found this post interesting, the brand, the product, the experience itself is an interesting one due to its uniqueness of offer, its clear sacred words and icons and it is a brand that ticks many boxes that a good brand marketer would strive to achieve. I suspect that the Linn family know exactly what they are doing but may not have expressed it quite as I have here. I have mixed and matched brand theories from the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Primal Branding, the Philosophy of Branding, and others, and I have tried, like Plato, to look below the surface of this brand.

I’d like to leave you with these final three thoughts:

1.  If you are passing then explore Cambria and just check if the family ownership of the town has grown
2.  Try the Olallieberry- the pie is delicious, trust me
3.  Avoid the pre-starter in the Linn Family restaurant! I’m used to bread and butter before my starter but this was bread and jam !! A brand extension too far in my view !!

24 June 2015
PS try Mozzi’s saloon over the road from the Linn family restaurant for a truly great beer (the 805) served icy cold

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Making the unfashionable, fashionable

Butlin’s is, I think it’s fair to say, unfashionable. Big Data on the other hand is very fashionable. Co-creation is oft talked about by Marketers but still rarely seen.

These three unrelated truisms sprang to mind when I wrote my last post in this blog, but the reason is worthy of this separate post.

Channeling Woodstock may not be very common terminology but in creating the forum “Mumstock” both Mumsnet and Marketing Week have developed an interesting concept to try and offer insight into how ‘Mums’ (apologies for the generalisation) respond to advertising and to try and distill insight into what makes a connection with them; a group of interested parties, just like the like-minded hippies that flocked to Woodstock in 1969.

Why did this spring to mind recently? Well, in my last post I looked at what I call Lifestyle advertising, and that centres, in most variations, on family and children. At Mumstock the reason this style is continuing may have been identified in a simple stat:

  • Only 1 in 5 Mums relate to the portrayal of Mums or motherhood in advertising.

Given the revenue potential of that target group that means a whole lot of advertising is missing the mark completely.

The Co-op Food business were keynote speakers at the event and unfashionably they picked a core headline grabbing insight themselves : Look beyond Big Data and create an emotional connection for your brand. Ok, the second bit is not rocket science, but the first bit is definitely anti trend ! Definitely an unfashionable sentiment for a Marketer in 2015.

Google.co.uk returns about 800 million results for Big Data, IBM and Xerox dominate the Paid ads which gives a sense of the investment in analytics and its value engineering potential.

So why did I mention Butlin’s? Well they have created a new suite of chalets at their MInehead, Somerset, UK holiday camp and their insight … well it was from Mumsnet. They consulted the Mumsnet community – a notoriously vocal community – and asked them how they should design their chalets to appeal to a family audience, by default identifying their target decision maker is, in most cases, the Mum. Crucially this demonstrates they have listened.

They are trying to develop a chalet that delivers that emotional engagement – if not physically (and they do look nice) then at the very least in their design and fit.  Take a look at the ad below:

A bold move, but one that is well thought out. Marketers rattle on about co-creation, and I don’t know how deep the research went, but its clear in the reality that they have listened; to questions about how many TVs to have in each chalet, what the exterior should look like, arts and crafts supplies for rainy days and so on. The ad doesn’t mention the link with Mumsnet, but you can see the GBP 16m investment has radically changed the appearance and facilities.

They appear to have listened to the research from Mumsnet that says that Mums see their motherhood as a relationship not a job … and by default I interpret this as meaning for Marketers that the emotional can clearly override the rational.

Billy Butlin’s empire was founded in the 1930s but in 2015 his vision/mission statement “Our true intent is all for your delight” seems well suited to this collaboration. Butlin’s refer to this development as a return to what made them popular, so it may be that if I post again in 12 months time my ‘unfashionable headline’ will need a change!

31 May 2015

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David Beckham in his pants

Ok, the headline was just to grab your attention… but it worked ! (… and there is a link later, trust me!)

I had a bit of a pop at celebrity led advertising in my last post, enjoyable for me, but not especially illuminating for you all.

So I thought I would share a few views on how I think the use of a celebrity can enhance a brand or its advertising (or not). As always – let me know what you think if you get a spare moment by commenting on this post.


This really is a 50:50 call. Great voices do not necessarily make great voiceovers.

On the positive side, take David Thewlis and the NFU Mutual voiceovers. Delicious, a lovely rich timbre to his voice and his meter is perfect. No doubt expensive, he is after all a Hollywood star. The ad works better because he has a great voice, and in part because you recognise it.

Then take the Co-operative, Katherine Kelly voices their TV ads, she has a great voice, warm and engaging, but do you really know who she is? I would hesitate a guess that even if you do know who she is you may not recognise her voice. Her Barnsley accent is soft and engaging, a far cry from the character she played in Coronation Street or Mr Selfridge. So I would question the choice, even though a great voice is a the key thing in a voiceover, famous or not.

Do you need to use top end stars, unless they add that extra something?

Think also that Co-op used John Hannah extensively – a great and really distinctive voice, one much more recognisable and associated with the brand.

The fact that he now applies his talent to the Direct Line ads shows a distinctive voice is always going to be in demand, and the risk of too closely aligning your brand to a celebrity (voice or image).

The Apple Ad I showcased in my last post, the Crazy one’s used Richard Dreyfus to voice over. Lovely, but the Steve Jobs version on You Tube is arguably just as good and would a voiceover specialist be even better. A mimic or impersonator, if good, may run a brand risk of being ‘not authentic’ but could you really tell on your TV?

So where do I stand. Go to an extreme, who has a very distinctive voice?  Sean Connery, so what if you used him to voiceover your ad?  He does it well, but rarely, see below.

Will the listener or viewer really remember the content of the ad or the message? or, more likely will they remember Sean Connery. Having paid a reasonable fee, you need to get an effective ad, but how authentic is Sean Connery in this context? We know he is an actor with no connection with this firm.

They are using a great voice to get cut-through and that is all. Maybe it’s been a success, but I wouldn’t like to be writing the business case.

For a low-interest category though, it’s certainly a break-out tactic.

The Perfect marriage of visual to product to celebrity

This is a small tight category, I would contend, and is arguably the most obvious and successful place to be connecting product to celebrity. It includes perfumes, make-up, lingerie, hair products and the roll call is stunning… Supermodels, beautiful actresses… think Natalie Portman, Keira Knightly, Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss and then add David Beckham, Beyoncé. (This is the pants bit everyone).

The aspiration to look and smell like our hero’s is a compelling reason to ‘marry’ a celeb to your product. It’s tried and tested and motivates through simple, direct, brand association.

Two gratuitous adverts for you to enjoy … David in his pants.

And the lovely Ms knightly in the 3.20s film used in cinema to promote Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel. The soundtrack helps immensely in this ad, but it is a nice piece of aspirational story telling and visualises the empowerment of women.

The icon approach

I could just have easily used Samuel L Jackson in the example on voiceovers instead of Sean Connery. The Barclay’s ad below is quite stunning, great art direction and filming. A great script too….but did it really help convey the message? I think not, I blame the random Unicorn personally, and the cost must have been huge, Samuel L Jackson is an A-lister after all.

Samuel has however completed an ad for Virgin Media that works much better, the same voice qualities and a quirky filmic approach work much more strongly, he is relevant to this category and this subject… much better value I would contend. A lingering doubt remains that he does advertise quite a few diverse things… a bit like a Hollywood Mylene Klass so will that confuse your target audience?

The same rationale works with this Bruce Willis ad for Sky … it’s relevant, and funny, pokes gentle fun at his celebrity and is helped by a great supporting cast, the young lady is perfectly cast, and what a great slo-mo ending, love it !

The funny stuff

A hard one to pull off. Churchill have a track record that works with Dawn French. She plays the funny lady to the straight man Churchill. A nice combination. It warms the brand, you feel safe and comfortable in their company, the pace and Britishness of the humor and the situations work to support this. Dawn French would surely never rip you off, I mean, she is a Vicar isn’t she?

Peter Kay grew his own fame and that of John Smiths with a series of great ads. a wonderful combination.. I like the ‘Wardrobe Monsters’ one best. These aired around 8 years ago now, so the quality on this compilation is not great, but it makes you feel really warm to the brand. It’s hard to find more examples that really work.. John Thompson has become something of a go to man for wry gentle humor, but the bigger comics are either not in demand or chose not to play.

A hard category in casting terms I would imagine and there is often a risk with Comedians!

The spokesperson

Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods for Nike are great examples where the association works really well. The credibility of the product is enhanced by the credibility of the spokesperson, however cheesy the ads may be.

It adds value to the consumer by association. The same as for beauty products, sports endorsement just works. The risk here is poor performance, if the star performs badly will that adversely affect brand perception?

Pepsi have tried consistently to add value with arguably equally strong brands… brand Michael Jackson and brand Britney Spears. Not so successful because the item has less connection with the celebrity .. sports goods = sports stars, and beauty = beautiful people, so naturally …  cola = singers?


Reflected glory

This is a variation of distinctiveness I referenced above in voiceovers. Santander are the best current example I can think of. Yes, I know that Jess Ennis-Hill and Rory McIlroy and Jenson Button will have current accounts, but that is not the point, it’s a reflected glow from World Champions that Santander are after. That is sort of ok, it’s a bit obvious, but I would imagine it works if the stars are as likable as Jess, Jenson and Rory.

So there you have it .. a few views, to summarise:

  1. Voice distinctiveness will get you cut-through but may be an expensive high risk strategy if you are relying on recognition. A great voice at the right price should be your priority.
  2. Logical association will help make the celebrity endorsement or appearance as it does in beauty and sports goods and success breeds success – see Nike
  3. Humour is a difficult one to pick off unless you cast someone everyone loves, like Peter Kay and Dawn French, and then use them to warm your brand and be authentic.
  4. Don’t try to use the celebrity as shorthand for the brand essence, that won’t work, you will confuse the consumer I would contend.
  5. If you are using an “icon”, make sure the use is true to who they are (or who they are famous for being), and sit back and bask in association – a good ploy is to use them in the way Sky use Bruce Willis rather than having them speak directly to consumers. If they are actors, your consumers may think they are acting… or that they are doing it for the money, either way it damages credibility
  6. If you just want cut-through, then that’s ok, but don’t try and manufacture linkages where none exist

I tried to think of a category to cover the More than Freeman ads… they are just so (good and) unusual that they are best just thought of as unique.. enjoy… (oh and the clever bit .. it is the voice of Josh Robert Thompson an impressionist from the North East … who needs Celebrities)?

See you next Time

23 May 2014

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Celebrity endorsed advertising loses focus

I’ll be honest I don’t really like celebrity endorsement in advertising.

I make an honourable exception for Kevin Bacon in what I think are genius level adverts for EE explaining 4G in the most unlikely manner. It has actually made me reappraise him as an actor believe it or not, he seems to be such a good guy in the ads … the power of advertising, who’d have thought!

I spotted this ad though for Westland Garden Health in my Guardian the other day. The connection is obvious, gardening and Charlie Dimmock, latterly from BBC TVs Ground Force..

Clearly Alan Titchmarsh is likely to be more expensive and Tommy Walsh is more DiY and Charlie had a certain following in her pomp, so I get the connection and see the rationale for using her!


But the art direction is appalling … why pay for a celebrity and then leave her so blurred (it is not my photo, honest), that you struggle to make out who it is.  It’s a very extreme form of airbrushing / photoshopping I must say.

The web site is even worse – they must have chosen the worst photo of her they had, and at this point I REALLY don’t want to know what her secret is … sorry Charlie.

CD web grab

I’m not sure the expense of the celebrity endorsement has worked here at all, but in my next example I think the connection is even more tenuous.

Which brings me on to Wiltshire Farm Foods and Ronnie Corbett – see what you think …

This is a sort of upmarket meals on wheels service and I am sure is lovely food, despite it looking rather varnished in the ad, but why Ronnie Corbett?  Really?  Do people think Ronnie will use a service like this? I can only assume it is an empathy play, but he is simply a link man here , much underused, I like Ronnie, so this makes me sad. I hope he was well remunerated.

Next in line is Jackpot Joy Bingo … and that ‘Great British Institution” Barbara Windsor as the Queen of Bingo.


What this ad is trying to show is beyond me.  The ringmaster is a visual identikit of Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York and “Babs”, if I may be so bold, is trying to be Elizabeth I.

Strange and stranger.

Bring back Foxy Bingo that’s what I say, I mean, even woodland creatures seem to make sense as Bingo ambassadors in the context of this ‘mish mash’. [Did I really just type that?!].

Where next then?  Well it has to be ‘Gorgeous George’ advertising coffee I think.

Ok, he is cool, even in this ad, and it does give a lifestyle comment that makes a degree of sense, and the gentle humour about his appearance has a degree of charm. Worth the fee though? Who knows? Does he use a machine like this?  Really?

This has depressed me (and probably you by now, sorry) so I went on the hunt for some Celebrity Advertising that actually works, I struggled, but landed two ads I hope you will enjoy revisiting, both are a little dated, but the production and quality make them timeless.  Both for the same brand too…

The style is montage … my two favourites?

…both Apple…

The original Superbowl ad for the iPhone launch and my favourite inspiring ad .. The Crazy Ones from way back in 1997 would you believe.

Relax, sit back and enjoy them…


Please leave me a comment or two if you get a moment, thanks as ever for reading!


20 May 2014

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Great customer service … with honour!

I posted the other day about Manchester United and their proposition and positioning.

It reminded me of a stunning, and quite original, positioning that I came across almost by accident.

Those of you who know me will know certain things about me;

  • I love concrete and all things modernist and brutalist in architecture
  • I firmly believe that Roadhouse is the finest film ever made (with lessons for life in every scene)
  • I only really listen to Jazz
  • One of my favourite brands is Wilkinson’s
  • One of my favourite logotypes is Norfolk Line – lovely combination of type colour and design
  • … and I drive up and down the A14 most weekends to get home

All of which you are likely to know .. but the last 3 in that list have a connection … lorries, and in particular advertising on lorries.

I posted about this some time ago, I may be becoming a lorry geek!

By now reader, you are wondering what on earth this post is going to be about … well lorries… and a proposition …and a surprise;

Allow me please to introduce Knights of Old .. in fact the Knights of Old Group.

If you drive around the Midlands in the UK you will know their haulage. It states boldly on every lorry “SERVICE WITH HONOUR” I really like that, its bold, it’s certainly original and I don’t know much about haulage and logistics, but I bet it’s a USP !


Check out the values on their website … here

This is a roll call of ambition, style, and growth. Mission statements may be a little old hat these days, much derided thanks to too much pomp and ceremony from Management Consultancies in the 90s (just my opinion you understand), but in this instance it absolutely backs up the vision and it must by its nature and presence unite a workforce that is by its nature dispersed geographically.

The typeface is also crucial in lending credence to such a nice line and vision. Can you use an old-fashioned word like ‘honour’ with a modern san serif typeface? I don’t believe you can, at least not for this brand.

And the surprise?  Well it is their website, a quite lovely piece of story telling across the piece. The rolling banner points you at three different stories and, my, how well they present them, especially the photography.

Can you make logistics sexy? You bet you can, especially with as clever a use of brand association as I have seen for a very long time, John Lewis, Carluccio’s anyone? … lovely!

Check it out here

But maybe I should not be so surprised at the quality of their advertising and marketing … look how they promote the cycling team they sponsor – very nice!


One final point to make as well. Added to my list at the top of this post you could have added I love brand heritage stories .. some brands lend themselves to it … Co-operative please note … why do you not embrace yours? … and this is one such brand. The history is well presented, not over done and it contextualises the whole vision. Very nice indeed

Read it for yourself here, its worth a few moments of your time I believe.

The story telling explains the origin of the company name and the use of the “Knight” and “Old”. The company was founded in the village of Old (near Kettering) by William Knight. It’s interesting to ponder how different their brand proposition might have been expressed if the two names had not worked quite so well together.

I hope you have enjoyed this slightly offbeat post, I find it really refreshing that a brand in such a non glamorous industry can make such a bold creative play but I guess you would expect that from a brand with such confidence to paint its proposition on every Lorry!

You will also be pleased to know you can buy toy lorries ‘a la’ Eddie Stobart too … I may seek one out, one on my desk would remind me that delivery of great service is important whatever industry you are in … and if you can do it with honour, even better.



01 May 2014

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Getting old

I am getting older, I know this because:

I have moved up a research segmentation category.

I am losing my hair … ok I have largely lost it.

I find myself looking nostalgically at my vinyl collection now I’m moving house – I have no turntable!

I still buy a hard copy of the Guardian.

I still use my old fashion drip coffee machine it only cost about five pounds some 15 years ago.

I still buy magazines … and I keep them .. Ok its Art Review and Creative Review mainly, not TrainWorld or Wood Turner Weekly.  Just saying.

But surprisingly the most noticeable change is my embracing of a less tolerant view of the permissive society.  I have to say, given I collect Tracy Emin, that this is restricted to advertising only though !

First it was the Confused.com advert I posted about.  Whoever thought dogging (sorry shoe lace tying) would make it onto a motor insurance ad.  Not me for sure.

Check out my post for all the gory details.

Second it was Flora

This is really a tad disturbing … ok, I am not a prude, but softening sex references by use of a cartoon is a little weird – especially given the endearing childlike voiceover and pronunciation of anniversary.  At 18s in, the ad descends into knowingness.  The older child clearly knows that they are not wrestling – otherwise why cover his siblings eyes.

I find it distasteful, but more importantly disconnected to the insight – the wholesome anniversary breakfast is a good insight, the awful combinations children serve is heart warming and long remembered.  This ad sullies that image, and will not I expect be long remembered as a good ad.

For the brand – it adds nothing in my view, unless they were seeking to court controversy and feel being talked about as being ‘edgy’ is a good tactic to grow awareness.

I was grumbling to myself the other day (see – I told you I was getting old) having seen that Flora ad again, when the new Foxes ad appeared … I loved these early ads with Vinnie the Panda.

They were fresh and entertaining.

It was a fine brand spokesperson, friendly, but iconic and with standout.

Now in this latest ad .. It borders on a degree of threat.  The end line is tipping over the boundary I think … for a brand icon to end with threats is odd, in terms of adding ‘edge’ to the brand, it probably works, but its a biscuit ad … edge is not required, maybe it’s stand-out they were after.  I have no idea what customer insight it is based on.

So I either need to get out more, or reassess my boundaries.

So I have a plan.

I intend to immerse myself in alternating Hannah Montana videos and the Miley Cyrus video of ‘Wrecking ball’ to effect this change … wish me luck ! See you on the other side !


27 October 2013

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Interfere with the British love of pets at your peril !

Britons love their pets. Fact. End of story.

So it is a brave brand that brings its marketing pounds to bear in a way that challenges this.

Marmite have just committed this error.  It has potentially damaged their brand and has cost them money.  More of that later.

Can I prove that Britons love their pets?  You bet I can … Confused.com carried out some research this year that suggests it is increasing:

  • 2 million of the UK pet owners would take their partner to court for custody of the pet in the event of a divorce if that became necessary
  • 1 in 10 said they would dump their partner if they didn’t get on with their pet
  • 30% of pet owners won’t even consider dating someone who was not an animal lover and 8% of all people would reject a potential partner if they were not an animal lover
  • 1 in 10 of the partners of pet owners think their partner loves their pet more than them

And trust me when I say that this is the tip of the statistical iceberg – I could have quoted many more from the same research!

According to the Oxford University Press the UK Pet population is around 27 million pets.  Assuming a total population of about 61m that’s 44%, that’s a lot!

In popularity terms it’s about equal at the top of the pecking order – 7.3m dogs and 7.2m cats.  I’m a dog person.

Paul O’Grady’s lovely prime time show about Battersea Dogs home won the BAFTA this year for best factual entertainment programme.  The sponsorship by Pedigree Chum is well extended into Social Media by the way … Nice twitter interventions especially.  Each episode generally only beaten by the soaps with 4.75 million viewers.

I rest my case … we Britons love our pets, cats and dogs especially.

So knowing all of this, especially the latter comments about the Paul O’Grady show, Marmite decided to run an ad campaign spoofing the very worthy and important work that animal rescue teams conduct every day.

The Ad itself is well filmed but it just makes you cringe inside as a Marketer when you try to resolve the funny antics of love Marmite or loathe it vs the British love affair with dogs and cats, especially, and all other animals.

I think this is a classic example of insight not being properly used.  The Ad agency probably used words like “edgy”, “brave” and “watercooler ad”.  My sense is that in this case the adverse publicity and the large number of ASA complaints – more than 400 so far – mean it has failed to position the Marmite brand as any of those things.  It even aired during Coronation street so topped and tailed by the lovely Meerkat sponsorship bumpers, insensitivity heaped on top of poor media consideration.  Not great use of insight or budget. My sense is that the Great British Public will see Marmite as insensitive.

I will let you judge the ad itself, I am not here to critique that, more to point out the danger of not getting the insight right.

Marmite have now made an £18,000 donation to the RSPCA. The question of all publicity being good publicity once more raises its head – but that looks like fire fighting to me.

Irrespective of whether you like the ad, it belittles important work to sell a product and that doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

Here is the ad :-

As an aside I watched the film Chocolat on TV again recently, a beautifully shot film, and it made me realise where , potentially, the insight came from in art direction terms for the ad below.  This is how the British see their pets, loyal and loving … interfere with that at your peril I say, at the very least, given this evidence it might cost you £18,000 !


23 Aug 2013

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