Internet marketing – 1995 style

I’ve been clearing out some boxes from the spare room and found this cutting from Campaign magazine, July 28 1995. It features a profile of the 27 year old me looking quite marvellously serious.

It’s certainly of its time. Some of my statements still hold up, and some are more dubious. I love the no-irony reference to Information Superhighway and check that URL – www.itl.net/guinness! Someone in the US had grabbed guinness.com, and we eventually got it back by offering him a weekend in Dublin and a trip to the brewery.

[click to enlarge]

Amazing Johnny Walker advert

This extraordinary ad/short film from Diageo makes for compelling viewing. Aside from the green screen magic (presumably?) and great choice of actor in Robert Carlyle, it is notable for two other reasons:

  • Use of story
    Appreciation of stories is hard-wired into our beings, and this is a good yarn with arcs, conflict, ambition and resolution. We’re being fed a brand story, but in such an engaging way that we accept it.
  • Breaking media format
    They’ve made an ad that is six and a half minutes long. Up until recently, such a length would have been laughably prohibitive, and indeed the days of 60 or even 90 second spectaculars seemed to be on the wane. But of course nowadays, good content spreads on digital channels where media cost is free and not constrained by programming breaks or convention.

thanks to the excellent Word magazine for the spot

The Guardian TV ads 1980s/1990s

I’ve just uploaded these two collections of The Guardian‘s TV ads that cover the 80s and 90s. The first set pre-dated my time as Brand Manager, but I was responsible for the second reel.

The ‘points of view’ (skinhead) ad from the mid 1980s remains the most famous ad from any newspaper and often appears in those lists of top 100 ads. However, viewed as a collection, I think they show the evolution of the brand, becoming notably more sophisticated, entertaining and inventive.

It was a critical task to modernise the paper, shake off the beardy, worthy image and fight the price-cutting Times and the newly-launched Independent. Good marketing, editorial vision, investigative journalism and investment in the product itself combined to strengthen a much-loved media brand and give it a strong platform to compete in the digital era.

Snacking – the death of down-time

Next time you’re in the queue at Starbucks or Tesco, watch people.

If it doesn’t look like they’ll get served in the next few seconds, chances are they’ll start prodding at their phone. Which will be in their hand. Ready. There’s even a phrase “Blackberry jam” that has been coined to describe being stuck at tube station exits behind office workers slowing to a halt as they breathe in that fresh phone signal.

Increasingly, people don’t do downtime. And this includes me. I’m not proud to admit it, but I find myself digitally snacking in the those oh-so-boring seconds in-between lift floors. Or waiting for the train to pull to a stop. Or while your colleague grabs a drink before a meeting. A watched kettle might never boil, but it’s definitely enough time to read the BBC headlines. I wager that checking facebook has replaced reading a tabloid as the nation’s favourite on the loo pastime (or is that a boy thing?)

I don’t say this is a good thing. It might even be a dreadful malaise, but it’s definitely real. And it’s getting worse/faster. Multi-tasking on iPhone 4.0 means – God forbid – that no longer do we need to stand by idly whilst the Spotify app hogs the foreground. Nope – we can start a track playing and check Twitter. Why has no-one updated anything in the last five minutes?

So what does this mean for marketers?

  1. Recognise that mobile is not just a different screen size, but a different occasion, involving different mind states and needs.
  2. Think little and often. It could be titbits of information, mini games or a decent facebook page but brands would do well to provide snacks
  3. Speed up. Marketing has always been about getting messages across efficiently, but boy, that really matters now. Halve your copy, and double its punch.
  4. Social again comes to the fore. Opening up safari, then going to Google, typing a search and clicking on results is slowwwww. Just gimme the link or a Like button to press already
  5. Or provide alternatives. The world isn’t on its way to hell in a handcart. Downtime is good, and brands that help people to switch off will be more important than ever

Please note. This piece also appeared as a guest post on the Reform Digital blog

conference call

Like most people, I get much unsolicited email inviting me to a wide range of dreary sounding events, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive something that actually made me laugh.

Planet of the Apps is a great name for a conference. Getting noticed always matters