Archive for January, 2011

It was not many moons ago that car racing used to be a perfect venue for tobacco marketing as it was considered as a way of repetitive branding to a captive and youthful audience. However, the overt branding of cars has been banned and almost all tobacco sponsors have pulled out. But “almost all” does not mean “all”. It has some exceptions excluded from “almost all” category such as Philip Morris International, which has been a title sponsor of Ferrari since 1997 and nowadays is about to extend a controversial deal with Ferrari.

Since Ferrari can’t plaster the Marlboro brand over their cars or drivers’ outfits like they used to,  Ferrari claims that the sponsorship, which is reportedly for $1 billion over ten years, doesn’t break any international laws. Tobacco sponsorship has been banned in the European Union since 2005. However, it was the last year that Food and Drug Administration officially banned smokeless tobacco and cigarette sponsorships in sporting events.

On the other hand, it seems that the tobacco industry is as conniving as ever. Just last year, Ferrari found itself in the line of fire for using a black, red and white Marlboro-inspired barcode on its cars. Because this was regarded as a part of a subliminal marketing campaign designed to circumvent the international ban on tobacco advertising. As a result of this criticism about the barcode’s connotations by the media and health campaigners, Ferrari dropped the logo from its cars.

“What Marlboro has done is create a huge number of what I call ‘smashable components’ to their brand. They are sending indirect, subconscious signals that are talking to the brain without explicitly telling it we are being sold to … just by showing me a red Ferrari car,” Martin Lindstrom, a neuro-marketing consultant and author of “Buyology,” told the Wall Street Journal last year.

Although Ferrari dropped the barcode, it is the most obvious fact that there are other ways in which Philip Morris can use its partnership with Ferrari, the only team in Formula One that continues to have a commercial sponsorship from a tobacco company. The Italian team’s official name is Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. Furthermore, Philip Morris not only reserves the right to veto other sponsors but also gets the company membership into Formula One’s exclusive Paddock Club, which caters to corporate hospitality and allows companies to brand their suites.

It is no doubt to say that the tobacco industry isn’t paying Ferrari a billion dollars for nothing. They are benefiting from this venue to promote their name and brand in addition to target youth and young adults at racing competitors.

Although smoking is still the number one preventable cause of death in the world, the harsh truth is that making money comes in first in this race. So it seems incompatible with this truth to tell Ferrari to end its deadly addiction to Marlboro money.


Nowadays there is a new dilemma for many companies between spending social marketing or cutting back spending on marketing. It is expected that marketers will most probably spend more money on social media this year.

According to a survey from integrated marketing services provider Alterian, which polled 1,462 marketers, agencies and service providers in December, marketers are still mastering their use of social websites to reach consumers.

Marketers regard 2011 as a turnaround year because engagement levels across digital media increase by replacing the spending cutbacks of the recession. The survey indicates that more than half (57%) of respondents expect their budgets to increase this year, while only 10% expect budget cuts. Three quarters (75%) of those polled said spending on social and digital media will rise.

As a result, it can be said that marketers are still making a great effort to get a handle on social media. Although one-third (33%) said they have little or no understanding of the conversations happening about their brand, 40% said they’re using some ad hoc tools to parse them. Another 27% said they reported those exchanges regularly to management.

“The primary issue here it that it is a new medium…people are figuring out how to tap into it,” said Donnell Wright, Alterian’s senior director of global research and insights and sales support. “The tools for tracking and analytics exist, but marketers are faced with a challenge in choosing among them what lines up with their business needs.” She added that marketers need to set up analytics and key performance indicators to better understand social media.

“It’s new. It’s tough to wrap their heads around it, but they need to get very proactive,” said Wright. Social media is there and it’s going to continue to evolve and mature, but your customers are waiting to engage with you now. If you’re not there, it’s really a disservice to you and your brand.”

Huggies, the one of the most trusted brands of diapers by mums to keep their baby clean, dry and happy, encourage mums in US and Colombia to share experiences via social media by building a sense of community. In the US, mums not only share advice but also discuss Huggies products. Likewise, mums in Colombia share experiences through social media competitions.

Huggies, which have tailored individual Facebook pages for many countries across North and Latin America, use a community management approach by posting frequently social media content. Across Facebook, mums share their experiences about being a mum and caring for a baby. Thanks to this social media strategy, in US and Colombia there are 150,000 and 80,000 fans respectively.

According to WaveMetrix social media monitoring, Huggies’ strategy seems to be successful at engaging mums and building a sense of community. Unlike mums in the US who share parenting advice and discuss Huggies products by responding to community-focused content, Huggies in Colombia take a more proactive approach by using social media competitions. In these competitions, mums share “chaotically beautiful” anecdotes of their children to be able to win prizes. Since mums generally “love” the “fun” competitions, only a few discuss the Huggies brands and products.

In the US, Huggies engage mums with community related social media content:

US mums share the “best parenting advice they have received” such as “sleep when the baby sleeps”, “trust your instincts” and “breastfeed” in addition to experiences of what they did at the weekend with their children such as “went to the movies”, “did crafts” or “bought Huggies”. Mums also discuss about Huggies products by saying that Huggies and Huggies Little Movers “fit well”, do “not leak” and do “not leave a rash”. However, some say Huggies “leak” or “leave ink stains on clothes” so they have “switched to Pampers”.

Moreover, mums respond to the “Every Little Bottom program” that aims to donate diapers to babies in need. Although some mums appreciate this helping behaviour, others say that Huggies are “overcharging customers” or “looking for a tax deduction” by exploiting this program.

The $250 Pottery Barn gift card competition is another attempt to attract mums’ attention in that some share how they would decorate their child’s room if they won the $250 gift card while others complain of problems about entering the competition, saying that $250 “isn’t much money” or complain of “bogus” competition rules.

In Colombia, Huggies engage mums through social media competitions:

In Colombia mums share their baby experiences in the competitions because they regard competitions as “great activities” and they “want to win”. There are many examples of these competitons. In the “fairy tale” competition, mums try to start a story featuring their baby and Huggies. In the “video sharing” competition mums upload videos of “beautifully chaotic moments”  and in the “funny anecdote” competition mums share a “beautifully chaotic” anecdote about their baby.

Furthermore, mums respond to the “Good morning” and “Have a great evening” messages with friendly chatter. This builds not only a sense of community but also anticipation for the competitions. However, buzz about the Huggies products and brand is at low levels due to the focus on the competitions overshadowing the comments about products.

Get Wise with Agency Wise

Posted: January 21, 2011 in Brand management

Today’s fast-moving world, it is no longer easy to manage your brand, organize attractive marketing activities and choose effective advertising tools for your brand. Since every company has different structures that cannot be clothed with the same dress as well as different target groups and market focus, the need for tailor made programmes and training modules increases.

Agency Wise, the newly established company, seems to fill this gap in the market by specialising in advertising, marketing and brand management training. The organization that has just opened its doors for business not only focuses on delivering tailor made programmes and training modules for both corporate clients dealing directly with advertising and PR agencies but also gives support for agency specific account management inputs.

Although Agency Wise has just been founded by advertising specialists Julie Burdis and Joanne Lintott, it has radicated with over 30 years’ experience and expertise within the industry. This wide experience of the founders in training and skill development comes from their background such that they worked with some of South Africa’s leading advertising agencies on many high profile brands.

Speaking about the launch of Agency Wise, Julie Burdis says that although they placed training as their number one priority, it somehow ended up very low on their action lists. He also adds Keeping clients happy and the business profitable are always the key issues – at the same time we all know the ultimate side effects – having team members who aren’t skilled to do the job will ultimately have an impact on those happy clients and the profitability of the business. It’s a never-ending cycle that resulted in our creation of Agency Wise, a one stop solution.”

In order to build a relationship on a firm footing both within the agency and between the client and their agency, Agency Wise offers a wide range of specific skill development tools according to the company structure they are dealing with. These tools and practices include relationship building, traditional client service training, agency operations and systems understanding, general understanding of brands and marketing in addition to a clear understanding into these tools and practices.

For example, “Tandem Training” is only one of the unique approaches developed by Agency Wise. It is a kind of programme developed to roll alongside a “live brief” or Project. With this programme, it is possible to train the team while maximizing the output of the brief at the same time.

The Agency Wise team, opposed to the currently available structured, standardized programmes, believes that its core point of difference is tailor-made approaches to all training needs. They fill this gap by providing solutions to both extensive and niche training needs. It seems it is the best way of getting wise with Agency Wise.

I am sure that most of us are dreaming of driving a top model, luxury car. 2011 Audi A8 not only says “goodnight” with its new 60-second TV ad but also haunts our dreams with its refurbished design. Although it seems that this car cannot go beyond dreams for most of us due to its high price, who knows what the future will bring?

Nowadays, the 2011 Audi A8 is the centerpiece of a new TV ad, which draws inspiration from the 1947 children’s book Goodnight Moon. This ad is billed as a “prelude” to the German brand’s 2011 Super Bowl ad, which will also feature the A8. Instead of saying goodnigh to such benign things as “mittens and kittens,” the A8 ad says goodnight to “gluttony” and excess in the form of tiara-wearing poodles and roast pigs.

In the book, which begins “in the great green room,” a child says goodnight to such benign objects as “mittens and kittens” and “clocks and socks.” However, The A8 ad starts with a view of a sprawling mansion and then whisks the viewer into a dining room with a groaning table laden with a roast pig and mounds of food. “Goodnight, gluttony,” says the announcer. “Goodnight, Fluffy,” he continues, as the camera focuses on a pampered white poodle wearing a tiara. “Goodnight, stuffy.”

The A8 ad can be viewed here:

Audi of America said “The (ad) methodically says goodnight to the age of old luxury, defined by gluttony and excess,” in a statement that has been recently released. Audi, which is trying to tap into those memories with the ad, explained that consumer impressions are based in nostalgia and formed at a very young age.

On the other hand, the ad does not mention the high price of the the redesigned A8, whose base price jumped more than $3,500 to $78,925 versus the outgoing 2010 A8.

Nor does it mention the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ratings on the 2011 A8. According to the EPA, the A8 with the 372-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 (V engine with eight cylinders) returns 17 mpg (miles per galon) in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. The 2011 A8 is also longer, wider and taller than the 2004-’10 model and bigger than some of the competition.

Audi is not saying what the A8’s Super Bowl ad will look like at this point. However, it said the ad is set to debut in the first break after kick-off February 6 on Super Bowl Sunday in addition to the “goodnight” ad, which had a national network debut on January 15 and 16 on CBS and FOX during the AFC and NFC divisional games.

Although it seems difficult to guess already viewer reaction to the A8 “goodnight” ad, automakers clearly seem to be taking the more conservative route with advertising in 2011.

There is a pitched battle between Nestle Nigeria Plc, producers of Maggi seasoning and Unilever since Unilever Nigeria Plc took over the manufacturing and sale of Knorr seasoning from Cadbury Nigeria Plc in December 2005.

Today, Knorr and Maggi are competing in the menu recipe of many Nigerian homes for top spot in the seasoning market. Virtually, in almost every meal served in the restaurants or in any social gathering, be it stew, vegetable soup, jollof rice, fried rice, beans porridge, moi moi, you will not miss the wonderful taste of these seasonings, which are definitely used while preparing any meal.

The one of the most intriguing questions is that “which of these brands could be ranked foremost among its competitors or the most popular in the market?”

Maggi, which had occupied a big space in the hearts of consumers before now, has managed to endear the brand to customers thanks to its marketing communication activities. For example, its annual “Cook for Mama” competition and recently, its Maggi Million and More Promo have produced 13 millionaires in 13 weeks. Moreover, some advertising materials created by Nestle not only strengthened its market presence but also entrenched the brand’s relevance in the market.

On the other hand, Knorr launched the Cook ‘n’ Win promotion where winners received cars as prizes as if it confirms that it is not left out in the fray. Furthermore, the Power of Meal Times campaign project was introduced by organising family picnics, as a way of preaching meal times bonding. In order to push the brand messages, Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) concept was used as an effective tool.

According to the results of a recent random survey conducted by Vanguard investigation in Lagos, Abuja, some parts of the North, East, and South-South, Maggi controls about  43 per cent of the market compared to Knorr’s 41 per cent. Although Maggi is the oldest in the market, there is no doubt that Maggi is facing a serious challenge in the leadership position, by losing its first comer advantage in the market.

Probing further into public acceptance and perception of the brands, it was found that both seasonings are readily available at supermarkets, open markets and street shops, and well packaged too, which respondents say they liked. However, 45 per cent of the respondents said the price of Knorr was worth the value offered by the product, while 55 per cent said the price was on the high side compared to Maggi. On taste, 60 per cent preferred Knorr taste for its salt level, against Maggi’s 40 per cent.

For example, a house wife interviewed in the survey, namely Mrs. Josephine Ikechi, said that she switched over to Knorr from Maggi due to the salty nature of Maggi. She added that Maggi made her miscalculate the amount of salt to add to her cooking.

However, 60 per cent of respondents admit they are aware and could easily recall Maggi’s marketing communication tools on television, radio, billboards, posters, magazines, internet and directional signs and other below-the-line platforms, as well promotional items, compared to 40 per cent respondents who recall Knorr’s promotional activities.

It seems that Knorr, working assiduously to outwit Maggi, has something wrong in advertising and promotional activities to endear the brand in the perception of customers. According to the respondents, the reason why Knorr lags behind is about its promotional engagements.

According to Vanguard investigation about the seasoning advertising exposure by media types, Maggi was recorded to have 22 per cent in the television advertising exposure, 11 per cent in radio, 5 per cent in the Press and 19 per cent in the Out-Of-Home; OOH (Billboards); while Knorr had 18 per cent in television advertisement, 9 per cent in radio, 5 per cent in the Press and the OOH it had 17 per cent.

In order to have a larger market share, both seasonings seem to be in a competitive struggle by using various tools including advertisement, pricing, personal selling, activations, distribution network, value addition, quality control and sales promotional activities.

Unless this struggle is over, the soup in our saucepan will keep on boiling. So don’t forget to blow on it!

“Not only harness the power of social conversation but also increase your social media ROI with Gloople”

E-commerce has gained momentum over the last couple of years with many sophisticated e-commerce sites. After Facebook has integrated e-commerce features and options on its pages and created the new concept of ‘Social Shopping’, many brands and retailers are turning their face away the popular networking sites to promote trade and branding. So it has become a rule that as Facebook gets excited about something, brands listen. Recently, Facebook has declared that 2011 will be the year of social commerce revolution.

“Social Commerce excites me – we already know how powerful recommendations from friends can be and the group shopping experience can easily be replicated through social commerce…the potential here is huge,” says Facebook’s UK & Ireland PR chief Sophy Silver to the “Guardian”.

Gloople, the UK’s first integrated social sharing e-commerce platform with full mobile functionality, is up for this challenge. It’s designed to provide a powerful and affordable e-commerce option for SME brands and retailers. Also, it enables them to automate engagement with their consumer online.

Gloople’s name conforms with its mission, as Gloople = Glue People. Glue social commerce tools create an easy to use e-commerce platform which is designed with the end-buyer (People) in mind to do the selling for the brand owner.

Gloople is available not only to licence but also to purchase with a range of customisable options for your business. Thanks to Gloople, consumers can easily make direct purchases from a brand’s embedded store without having to leave the comfort of their social networking ‘home’. Since there are links with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, every user’s purchase is automatically shared with their Facebook and Twitter networks, which communicate this online purchase behaviour to their entire social community by sending the brand viral. As a result, this sharing parlays e-commerce into social currency.

“Brands can now interact directly with consumers online in an enjoyable way, which enables the consumer to become an advocate, who shares their experience whilst building a bond with the brand and evaluating the products they wish to purchase. Consumers spend 1.5 more time on the internet who use Facebook & Twitter.” says Warren Knight, Gloople Co-founder and Director.

Moreover, they already have applications such as American Express’ iPhone app Social Currency which allows users to show off purchases made on their AmEx card to their online community.

It is truism to say that consumption and purchase preferences reflect who we are and most probably we want to share our online purchasing behaviour with our peers as these preferences are combined with the allure of social media. We have been already sharing our location with the world and now it is time for showing off our latest purchases.

In addition to providing brands with a fully customisable online sales platform, Gloople also helps them engage directly in commercial activity with their online fan base through controlled social media interaction. In return for further online interaction with a brand using Gloople’s GroupBuy facility, Gloople offers rewards and incentives. So the brand’s online community is no longer simply a fanbase, but an empowered salesforce, expanding with every ‘tweet and ‘like’.

Gloople’s Social Hub facility provides online consumers with an arena to share purchase stories, advise and recommendations, promoting a sense of community and conversation under the watchful eye of the brand. Furthermore, Automated Discount is another facility that shares consumer purchases and gives an immediate discount on that purchase or a voucher for a next time purchase.

Gloople, which is fully equipped to meet the demands of the Smartphone user, With a unique mobile application, it is possible to have branded search capabilities and even a payment system.

After all, are you still keen on traditional shopping without becoming social???