The Rising Cost of Entertainment

Source: This Is Money/HBOS

The squeeze on family budgets was brought into sharp focus by the publication of entertainment inflation figures for the entertainment and leisure pursuits of ordinary Britons. Some of the figures, particularly the cost of attending live sport are astonishing. When coupled with the rising price of fuel these bring the cost of a family day out up to frightening levels and out of the reach of many.

So what might this mean for brands? Well first of all giving your loyalists some kind of helping hand to have fun these days feels like a great opportunity. In the social sphere entertainment based rewards have got to be a great way to activate your community and to build size and scale.

Secondly it also stikes us that in a world rich with second screens and gaming consoles, creating shared family fun experiences to brighten up time at home is a big opportunity. ‘Gameification’ sounds like made up marketing babble and as such may be an offputting concept. However in a world where the price of fun is rising so rapidly, connecting with people through play looks like an attractive prospect.

With increasing numbers of people watching TV with Zeebox in their hands expect to see branded fun built into many major broadcast campaigns over the next twelve months.

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Coachella 2012: taking sponsorship to the next level

 

Music festival Coachella has recently wrapped up the second of its two long weekends. Taking advantage of the relatively warm climates of the Californian desert, the famous event jumpstarts the summer festival season. This year’s event has seen sponsors step up with innovative marketing ideas, whilst Coachella (itself a brand) has also provided a brilliant example of maximizing social media presence.

Boasting an eclectic line up of artists over the two weekends – none of which are overtly commercial and many of which have gained popularity by the release of free music – bombarding festival goers with brand messaging and products with a lack of relevance to the surroundings could have backfired. It appears that this year’s sponsors were aware of this and delivered innovative solutions for their brands, enhancing consumers’ festival experience.

Heineken launched its cold storage room, allowing Coachella attendees to store up to two cases of Heineken in their own personal coolers accessed via the owners’ thumbprints. Helping to avoid frequent queuing throughout the day and, worst of all, warm beers (the bane of a festival goer’s life!). Meanwhile several fashion brands, such as Lacoste and Guess, hosted after parties near the festival site, with an array of entertainment options, including performances from some artists featured at Coachella, to support the launch of new products.

As mobile phones have become an increasingly popular replacement to a lighter in the air, illuminating the arena at the request of the artist, sponsoring a festival has become a logical choice for phone companies – particularly in light of research that suggests 66% of concert goers nowadays take pictures via their smartphones and about 32% send Facebook updates or tweets from a show. T-Mobile took advantage of this, bringing their ‘Neon Carnival’ to Coachella. This included carnival games and thrill rides such as bumper cars, an enormous Ferris wheel and a giant slide. Again, the reason for this event was the launch of a new product (new beats by Dre sound technology for the HTC one mobile phone) – however, it was placed in the context of a funfair, allowing those attending to receive a memorable, positive brand experience.

In a bid for cultural relevance (topic discussed in my previous blog post) Hyundai presented their Re:Generation music documentary, placing artists from different genres together in creative collaboration. Hyundai’s Advertising Director David Matathia hopes this approach is a “more effective model that appeals to that audience more than pushing ad messages at them”. It would appear these brands have headed the warning of Scott Lucas, executive director of Interbrand Cincinnati, who advised “the experience needs to be carefully planned to ensure not just execution but relevancy”.

 As for Coachella itself, the now infamous Tupac hologram generated a huge buzz across all social media platforms during the first weekend, as mentions of the hologram exceeded 2.3 million tweets during one evening alone. The festival’s embracement of viral output (the whole weekend was streamed live) and notable online presence helped it amplify the buzz. Through developing a YouTube channel, and Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest accounts, the festival had a presence across 9 social media platforms. As a brand itself, Coachella has laid the blueprint for those in the consumer market to follow when thinking of creating consumer engagement, product content and generating buzz. The only difficult part is coming up with the creative idea to get people talking.

March Madness: inspiring cross-platform campaigns from the U.S.

The month of March ushers in the closing period of the Premiership and commencement of training for all cricketers of the country. However, across the Atlantic it means one thing: March Madness, the annual College basketball tournament which continues to garner huge interest, captivating a TV and, increasingly, a social media audience. This provides an opportunity for brands to get in on the action as official sponsors or otherwise. To put the scale of March Madness in perspective, the TV deal with the governing body the NCAA is currently $10.8 billion over 14 years (bear in mind that’s just 14 months’ worth of coverage!). Although all current activity is primarily for the U.S. market, I thought it would be interesting to run down some of the innovative campaigns over this period, as brands look to integrate their promotions across of forms of media.

Coca-Cola has introduced a multitude of platforms to encourage engagement via social media, including texts for prizes during live games, and is also the sponsor of the official social arena, which allows fans to share game content and discuss games with others, accessed via the Coke Zero website.

It has also used the opportunity to invest in the marketing of its energy drink Powerade, launching a commercial alongside a Facebook page which offers the chance to win tickets to the Final Game. In addition, they have also teamed up with convenience store chain 7Eleven to produce souvenir cups which hold a QR code providing a link to the Powerade website and a video of a selected memorable moment of the tournament, hosted by former players.

The Nissan-owned car firm Infinity has launched a campaign involving social marketing and philanthropy. Announced via a promoted tweet, it promises to donate money to the American Cancer Society for every correct tournament bracket pick made via its website. 

Other sponsors Dominos, Reeces and UPS find their Facebook pages now dominated by March Madness, with opportunities for prizes, encouraging engagement with the brands page during games.

Unilever launched Dove’s ‘Journey to comfort’ campaign featuring stories from former and current basketball players. The ad is accompanied by a Facebook page where people are encouraged to share their own stories, a dedictated website and also an app which allows you to send a personal message to Shaq (featured below), interacting with the brand and the personality.

As you can see, these ‘corporate champions’ have come up with some original ideas, enabling them to engage the consumer by idenfiying shared values and or interests despite there being no immediate connection to basketball itself. They provide inspiration for future campaigns focused on cross platform engagement.

‘Super Bowl Super Social’ with The Guardian

Here is some of the most thought provoking creative work of the last few weeks.
The new BBH ad for The Guardian featuring the trial of the three little pigs is the latest of BBH’s ‘super bowl super social’ ads. These have been developed on the basis that investment in landmark content creates social ripples that reduce the need for high ATL frequency. So spend more on the ad and less on media, handpicking where and when it gets exposed.
So this gives us a super clever ad extoling the virtues of open journalism and a launch event in C4 News on 29th February.

The big question – how well did it do?
• 768k views on You Tube to date which seems to be flattening out.
• 8k tweets with a potential reach of 20m.
• Most popular with Men 45 -54.
• Almost universally approved by You Tube raters.
On the other hand there appeared to be no increase in searches for relevant terms.
So does Super Bowl Super Social work?
The gold old fashioned ABCs may help us work that out in this case.

Google Re:Brief – Re-imagining TV adverts for the digital age

In light of changing screen based media behaviour, Walker Media recently brought together our TV and display teams to form the new Screen Team. By uniting the best of broadcast and digital display we can ensure that we offer a cohesive approach to the consumer journey, reflecting the ever increasing connectedness of screen based media behaviour.

To mark the changing nature of consumer interaction with screen media and to celebrate 18 years of Internet advertising, Google designed Project Re:Brief. Google challenged four global brands to remake iconic TV ads as digital campaigns to show how online media can be used creatively to engage and entertain rather than bombarding the consumer with sales pitches.

Coca-Cola chose to bring alive the feel good charm of the “Hilltop” TV ad from 1971, in which a group of people sing about wanting to buy the world a coke. This was done via Google’s display advertising platform and a series of bespoke vending machines around the world. Users can record a message and send it along with a Coca-Cola to connect with someone on the other side of the world. The recipient can then respond with a text or video message to thank the sender, completing the connection.

It is a rare occasion to see someone tweet about a new display ad or for someone to wax lyrical about a pop up online ad in the same way they would about a great TV ad. Projects like this are encouraging as they highlight the need for a new wave of digital advertising which captures the imagination of people.

The Centre of the Internet: How advertisers are tapping into our digital narcissism

Millennials, the most narcissistic generation ever, are keen to share branded content about themselves.

In the early days of Facebook, I once fell for a fake app that promised to reveal who the most common visitor to view my profile had been. I was very thrilled that someone had managed to hack into Facebook’s databases and would finally let me know who had been checking my profile out – only to be disappointed by landing on a page with my own face on it. The joke was on me. And worse still, the app was probably right – out of all my possible online stalkers, I am definitely the worst.

I’m not alone, as my generation, the Millennials, is supposed to be the most narcissistic ever – the authors of The Narcissism Epidemic found that there’s an accelerating upswing in narcissism among young people, and that no generation preceding us has been as self-obsessed as we are. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Internet – we not only stare at and update our own profiles but we measure our own online influence via Klout, untag all the photos in which we don’t look great, Google our own names – a habit so common that a budding ad creative decided to take advantage of it by buying ad space for search words that were Creative Directors’ names. We get told we’re not the centre of the universe, but  our grandmothers forgot to tell us that the Internet doesn’t revolve around us either.

Marketers have discovered that we’re quite likely to share something if we’re in it ourselves. Intel’s digital Museum of Me campaign was a hit, as it allowed Facebook users to create a virtual museum for their profiles to commemorate the last four or five years of the the lives, showing popular photos, comments, events and friends that had been important in those years. Similarly, the Virgin First Times campaign created collages you could share with your friends to reminisce on the early days of your friendship: you could see the first time you and a friend were tagged in the same photo, as well as the first time you were at an event together. Most recently, Kit Kat has hired artists to make sketches of Facebook users’ profile pictures as part of their Break Time Friday campaign.  In addition to being creative, all of these campaigns got a of lot shares due to the narcissism factor – they created content about a topic we never cease to be interested in, ourselves.

Kit Kat's, Virgin's and Intel's social media campaigns all tapped into the narcissism of the digital generation.

 In addition to brands, budding artists have found inventive ways to tap into the youth’s digital self-obsession. A Brooklyn-based band, Riot in Paris, are creating buzz in the blogsphere by making and recording songs about Twitter users who have asked to be tracked by the brand through using the hashtag RiotTrackMe. The lucky few get their own songs created and recorded by the band. Here’s a song for one social media user, Ali P, talking about how hard Ali finds it to drive in high heels, and wishing her the best for her chem exam:

Practical applications of mood-based advertising

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What we share on social media gives an insight into our moods - and advertisers are using this information to deliver targeted ads.

In a previous post, I looked into the growing body of research analysing how consumers’ moods affect their response to different types of advertising content. In this post, I will look at the ways in which this has been incorporated into advertising solutions in practice.

With the rise of social media, advertisers have a window into consumers’ moods and needs at any point in time – offered by their status updates, the sentiment of their tweets, social search or even the songs they’re listening to. Two comprehensive studies on Twitter data have provided an insight into people’s mood changes throughout the day. The studies suggest that there are universal patterns; people are grumpy when they wake up, brighten up during the morning, and their mood goes into decline again during the afternoon. Moods also improve very late in the evening to peak two hours before and two hours after midnight and at weekends during 8am to 11am.Unsurprisingly, the happiest time of the week is 5pm to 6pm on a Friday  (I personally find that to be the sweetest tasting drink).

In addition, Facebook has continually talked about its ability to build a “mood detector” which would enable advertisers to start targeting their ads by mood. This could possibly extend to all online ads, if Facebook becomes the dominant destination for online activity.

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Moodagent is a new Spotify app that allows users to generate mood-based playlists - and advertisers to place their ads in between suitable songs.

Moodagent, a recently launched Spotify app, is a tool that enables consumers to generate playlists suited to their mood, and allows advertisers to match their ads to the mood of the songs that a consumer is listening to. Peter Berg Steffensen, CEO at Moodagent said: “Our knowledge of emotional analytics, user behaviour and perception, combined with the ability to connect this data with specific products, provides us with the key to an unparalleled precision for targeting audio advertisement.”

Outside of digital, mood-based technology is also used in outdoor, with the development of ‘gladvertising’ (inventing a “clever” pun to name a new development always seems to make us in advertising happy). Using a face-tracking algorithm to match movements of the eyes and mouth to six expression patterns corresponding to happiness, anger, sadness, fear, surprise and disgust, digital outdoor will allow marketers to talk to consumers with tailored adverts.

Even though this area of research is still in its infancy, media owners are already developing the technology to match the potential of mood-based advertising. Essentially, this could give us new ways to fit creative and media strategies together, adding yet another layer to the communications planning process.