Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spoof: 1984: Vote different

There's a viral running on YouTube for Barack Obama, candidate for the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination. The viral is a spoof of Apple's mythic 1984 ad. Opinion polls rank him as the second most popular choice among Democratic voters for their party's nomination, after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. This viral should contribute to getting to the first position.

Here's the viral (note that they took the 1984 "2nd edition" with iPod).

Monday, March 26, 2007

De Kijk van Van Dyck: "Youth"

Last year the media in Belgium published some quite alarming findings on today's youth. Some even called these youngsters the 'lost' generation.

A recently published study by Youth Research Platform (JOP) reveals a whole new, and more positive truth.

Read all about it in this week's column.

Media / Trends: The Long Tail of online social networks

brandchannel features an interesting article from the hand of Stuart Hogue, strategic director at frog design, about social networks. Exisiting social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are getting too expansive to offer their members a truly meaningful community interaction, Hogue sais.

In order to truly give people the opportunity to embrace their individualism online, social networks will have to start acting more like offline social circles, that is, to be exclusive. Whether through invitation systems, approval processes, or narrowly defined content, these sites will not only have to care about who is using them, but also who is not. Smaller, more specialized groups are the online networking tools of tomorrow.

The Long Tail
Hogue applies Chris Anderson's theory of 'The Long Tail' to online social networks. The next wave in social networking may be to move people away from the "short head" of community accessibility (mega-networks like MySpace) toward the "long tail" of human individuality, the traits that we share with the few, rather than the many. Social networks, Hogue states, should rethink their approach to creating value.

Brands: Shell F1 ad

We recently mentioned the criticized Shell ad celebrating the 60th anniversary of its partnership with Ferrari Formula One team. The ad, which also promotes Shell's V-Power high-performance fuel, features Ferrari's F1 cars racing around some of the world's best-known capital cities. In London, however, they were not allowed to shoot after the authorities expressed concerns over safety.

It's quite long, it cost a lot of money, £2m, too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

De Kijk van Van Dyck: 'The youthing of age'

Population is getting older in Belgium and beyond. By 2020 there will be 50% more workers employed on the labour market aged over fifty (Adecco). The 'greying' of society is high on political agendas, but also on a lot of marketer's agendas.

However, there are a lot of misconceptions about the over fifties of today and tomorrow. Today's and tomorrow's over fities are:

1. More active. The have a very busy life. A very active leisure life increases their subjective feeling of time pressure.

2. More able-bodied. More and longer than 30 years ago they are able to take care of themselves.

3. Less lonesome. Feelings of loneliness have decreased compared to thirty years ago. A possible explanation can be in an increased engagement in social activities.

4. Richer. This is a generation that accumulated a lot of wealth over the past decades. And they are not afraid to spend their money.

Fysioligically and psychologically the over fifties are redefining the definition of 'getting older'. The British sociologist Anthony Giddens, in his Europe in the Global Age, calls it 'the youthing of age'.

Read all about it in this week's column.

Brands: iPhone commercial - the real thing

We already showed some 'avant la lettre' spoofs on this blog of the Apple iPhone commercial, but this is the real thing.

It's very simple, but very good. Or, how to introduce a new product category into the brand portfolio.

If you want it to see in High Def. you can go to the Apple website.

Books: The Herd Instinct

Marketing magazine featured an interesting article on a recently published book: Herd: How to change mass behaviour by harnessing our true nature by Mark Earls.

This book states the theory that a marketer's focus should not lay on the individual consumer, but on the way he or she interacts with other people.

Marketers today are way too aften obsessed with the individual. The truth is that mass behaviour - and that's what us marketeers are trying to influence afterall - is not the result of people acting on their own, or of powerful irresistable external forces acting on those individuals. It is instead the product of interaction between individuals, who copy, react to and reinvent what others have done or what they think will do. In short, we do what we do, largely because of other people. We follow our herd instinct.

Some advice is provided for the marketer:

1. Know your herd. Recognise the human being as a social animal, and thus study his behaviour in social contexts.

2. Look at marketing as consumer-to-consumer, rather than business-to-consumer. The important relationship is not between the company or brand and any given consumer, but between the latter and other individuals.

3. Targeting: Forget the concept of individuals who can be reached by certain media channels; instead think of connected, social beings and social groups.

4. Learn to live with uncertainty. Mass behaviour is complex and adaptive, but also inherently unstable and difficult to predict.

The author's blog you can find here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

De Kijk van Van Dyck: 'Dolce'

A lot of fuzz about this ad last week. Docle & Gabbana were forced to pull back the ad due to heavy protests in Italy and Spain.

Quite some conservatism they are confronted with. What's the need of pulling up a Chinese wall when YouTube and other internet sites make all kind of content freely available?

The solution starts with the consumer himself, more specifically with education. How are we making our children resistable and critical towards the huge flood of information and desinformation they are confronted with the moment they step out of their homes?

Read all about it in this week's column (dutch).

Brands: Advocacy

Marketing magazine recently featured an article on advocacy of brands. "The only question you need to ask, it reads: would you recommend our product or service to a friend or colleague?"

The question is used as a key indicator by a range of companies like Allianz, T-Mobile, General Electric and American Express. They have adopted it as a key part of their customer-loyalty programmes. Allianz and General Electric are even linking the system to excutives' pay.

The concept is this: find out how likely a brand is to be recommended, and it will provide a good indicator of how well it will grow. It is a recognition of the power of word of mouth in an age where blogs and easily accessible online customer reviews have arguably made recommendations more important than ever.

The idea was first suggested by Frederick Reichheld, director emeritus at management consultancy Bain & Company in the US, in a Harvard Business Review article three years ago.

However, there are some critical remarks on the system: the indicator can identify that a brand has got an issue (or not), but it sais nothing about cause and remedy. Therefore other research is required. And translating the promotor score into strategy will prove the most difficult exercise.

There is also the temptation to rush into heavy ad campaigns and marketing programmes, when confronted with a low promotor score. But since the promotor indicator measures performance against expectations, it is crucial to not raise expectations prematurely and too high.

Brands: Adidas - new 'Impossible is Nothing' campaign

Adidas has got a new global "Impossible is Nothing" campaign, made by 180 Amsterdam. More than 30 inspirational stories are told using famous athlete's own personal style. Amongst them: David Beckham, Lionel Messi, but also former New Zealand rugby star Jonah Lomu and Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Each athlete chose a defining moment in their life and created the images and words which would be combined to create this new "Impossible is nothing" 2007 brand campaign.

Here there's the kick-off David Beckham commercial:

And here Lionel Messi:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Knowledge sharing: Lecturing at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel

This semester I'm a visiting lecturer at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, teaching the course 'Brand theory and communications strategy' in 2nd bachelor Communications Sciences from February to May.

I'm teaching on the most recent academic insights in the world of brands and communications (Franzen, Kapferer, Aaker), examining and illustrating them with real life cases from Belgium and abroad.

De Kijk van Van Dyck: "Me or we?"

At the moment there's a public debate in The Netherlands on individualism vs. collectivism. The new government of prime minister Balkenende announced its policy under the name 'Working together, living together'. Some analysts talk about the return to the postwar years of solidarity.

However, simplifying the debate to a 'balck or white' discussion demonstrates a lack of insight into the modern individual. The modern consumer shows a capability of combining a highly individualistic 'me' with a truly social 'we'-orientedness.

Read all about it in this week's column.

Brands: Toyota - GM clash

Read an interesting article in Newsweek about the clash between Toyota and GM. For a long time, Japan's Toyota toiled in GM's shadow. This year, the nimble Asian automaker will likely blow past the Detroit giant to become the world's biggest carmaker. The story of how it happened reads like a corporate to-do list. Companies from Microsoft to Boeing are now taking tips from Toyota.

Essentially it all boils down to this: Toyota makes cars for less than it costs GM, and it gets to sell them at a higher price than GM does.

Toyota is obsessed with quality. It's production system is focused on continuous improvement. Workers in Toyota factories stop the line thousands of times a day to make sure no quality glitch gets through. Companies like Microsoft and Boeing are emulating this system.

After a NASCAR cheating scandal in the US, and more painfully, negative news about a rash of recalls Toyota chairman Fujio Cho made a public apology in Japan last summer, complete with a deep bow.

Media: Joost - Moving tv to the internet

This summer Joost will be opened to the public. Joost (formerly 'The Venice Project') is the newest project of Kazaa and Skype-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom. They took a 'lean-back' approach to the computer, instead of the traditional 'lean-forward' approach. Microsoft and others have already tried to bring the Net to TV screens, but they are trying the opposite: moving TV to the Internet.

Joost is now already open for invited users. Early adoptors. And they are doing what they are supposed to do: blogging about Joost. Reading UtahSaint: "Joost could make YouTube, Google Video and Apple TV look like 1988."

Advertisers welcome Internet TV because its audience is measurable, targetable, and above all interactive.

By 2010 the online-video market is expected to grow fivefold, to more than $7 billion (Parks Associates estimates).

Some facts on Joost:
- It has no user-generated content. Instead, it aims to offer network quality programms.
- Joost is free, but programms contain 3 minutes of ads an hour.
- The interface can eventually be translated to cell phones.
- Joost now offers around 50 channels, but this could soon expand to a hundred or maybe thousand.

Source: Time, March 12, 2007