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i blame the gorilla July 30, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, thought leadership.
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The Independent ran an article highlighting the number of ads that featured music from the 80s. The Drum asked me to write a response to it. I blamed the gorilla.

You can say it’s all about fashion and trends and everything comes around again. And again. But I blame the gorilla.

It’s his fault. Sitting behind the drum kit waiting patiently until erupting with madness and glee and yes, ‘joy’, to thrash them to death alongside Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight’.

It’s his fault. He answered the one line brief,’show me how I feel when I eat Cadbury’s chocolate’ by resorting to an iconic 80s music track and going batshit mental on the drums.

The 80s: big hair, big shoulder pads, big news, big everything. Especially big ‘choons’. And now the people who grew up in the 80s with their knowing ‘Frankie Says’ t-shirts and Phil Oakey side-flange partings implanted deep in their hearts have grown up.

They are now in the bullseye of the mainstream brands. Still watching vast swathes of telly and still swayed by big telly ads and wondering WTF emojis are. Still knowing someone could have picked them out and shook them up when they were working in a cocktail bar and turned them into someone new.

If you’re a 40-something to 50-something, you will have witnessed a fair bit of familiarity in advertising of late. A bit of Europe here, a surprise airing of Fleetwood Mac there. All dropped into drive familiarity and layer the emotional element to the advertising to get you to notice, to consider. To strike at the heart of your wallet via your retro fluorescent ear canal.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that 80s music was the most popular choice among all brand advertising in 2014. Queen adding little riffs of fun to Tesco Christmas spots. Fleetwood Mac helping a Shetland Pony moonwalk for Three. What surprised everyone was Bonnie Tyler topping the charts. But it was epic. So it makes your brand epic. And you’re epic if you buy our brand. Epic.

Some are wonderful and actually make sense. Others just use the track like audio attention grabbing ‘Like a Virgin’ era Madonnas because Queen selling sofas to the tune of ‘Someobody to Love’ is just really selling out isn’t it? They were a band that famously refused Stallone rights to use ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ in Rocky III forcing them to find their own anthem in Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’. And they’re now happy for their back catalogue to be used to flog sofas. Bloody gorilla’s fault.

And then we have the re-imagining. The John Lewis ‘make ‘em cry to make ‘em buy’ approach. A soft, tinkly-tinkly re-imagined, slowed down version of a well-known classic that acts as an ear worm and makes its way silently into your heart. Alongside penguins, bears and gorillas.

Music is a hugely important part of advertising and any film based content. Music can make or break an ad. The rhythm, cadence and the power tell their own story but magic can happen when the story, the music and the lyrics work hand in hand. An edit suite is often a painful torture chamber in the creative process and equally a pleasuredome when things go right.

But is the rise of 80s music in ads also because modern music is incomprehensible to anyone over the age of 30? Where new music is dictated by the Radio 1 playlist which deems La Roux and Lily Allen over the hill and therefore primetime picking for middle-aged, middle-class department store advertising tales?

The brands mentioned above largely appeal to that demographic so going for familiarity over a new artist is a much safer bet. And in a corporate environment where the average chief marketing tenure is under two years, safety and immediate impact is the order of the day.

Unless you’re going to go big and buy yourself instant stardust with Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift (how many times have you seen ‘Shake It Off’ in a creative WIP this last year?), then it’s time to break out the shuttlecocks in your shorts, re-live who shot J.R. and dust off your 12” of ABC. Because then success will be so easy for you but don’t forget it’s the gorilla who put you where you are now and he can put you back down too.

Nicholas Gill is planning director at Doner UK

is outdoor advertising ‘visual pollution’? July 17, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, BBC, OOH, outdoor, thought leadership.
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NG BBC

I got to represent the advertising industry (I know, really) in a small BBC World Service radio show called Business Daily that went out to a small audience of 1.3m people globally on 2nd June. After a quick line at the start, I come in at c. 12 mins. Here’s the synopsis:

Do ubiquitous advertising like billboards, posters and banner ads lead to mental overload? American author Matthew Crawford discusses whether the constant distraction of ever-present commercials leads to ‘mental fragmentation’.

Daniel Gallas reports from Sao Paulo in Brazil on the city’s decision to ban ‘visual pollution’, including all outdoor advertising, a decade ago.

And, Ed Butler hears from Nick Gill, planning director at advertising agency Doner, and why he thinks outdoor advertising is part of the lore of a big city.

You can also Listen to the MP3 here.

the rise of the data scientist July 16, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in b2b, big data, data, data scientist.
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b2b GILL

Data is crucially important in the current marketing landscape. It informs decisions and inspires creative thinking. There has been a lot of column inches about ‘big data’ but the role of the data scientists is to actually provide ‘small data’. The data that really matters. Not analysis that leads to paralysis. The data that gets the boardroom interested.

Data can be complex, convoluted, misinterpreted and used for defensive approaches rather than innovating and seeking out new opportunities. In the right hands, data unleashes truth, overcomes long held assumptions and prejudices and shines a light on new insights that can unlock business growth.

Like many modern business people, the data scientist needs to be a T-shaped person too. Capable of being expert in his or her craft but also adept at communicating and collaborating with a diverse range of people from strategists to creative to brand managers to CMOs and CEOs.

Fundamentally we believe this role should be internal at a company and not outsourced. The person needs to be ‘baked in’ to every part of the business to provide the crucial ‘small data’ that makes a difference. As an example, we know the work we do for Align Technology, who produce Invisalign – the world’s leading invisible orthodontic medical device, for their professional educational programme shows that the multi-layer touchpoint programme works as Orthodontists who attend 2 or more events grow their volume of cases submitted by 43% versus cohort. Or being able to identify a group of underperforming Orthodontists in one European territory and changing the business model to effectively create a group and improve business returns by 587% in one quarter.

Edited version of the above appeared in the July/August 2015 edition of B2B Marketing magazine.

B2B Marketing_The Rise of the Data Scientist_090715 B2B Marketing_The Rise of the Data Scientist_090715 (2) B2B Marketing_The Rise of the Data Scientist_090715 (1)

NME change in content strategy keeps them front and centre July 9, 2015

Posted by nicholas gill in brand experience, content strategy, Marketing Week, NME, though leadership.
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NME

Some words from me in Marketing Week on NME’s change in content strategy. The link requires (free) subscription. If you can’t be bothered to click the synopsis is NME are going free, increasing circulation, broadening the content beyond music and extending into more digital content channels. Here’s my thoughts:

Nicholas Gill, planning director at integrated ad agency Doner UK, says the change in strategy should help keep NME “front and centre” rather than something to look at through the misty-eyed look at history. He predicts it could help NME avoid the fate of its one-time rival Melody Maker.

Broadening the content base, both in terms of platforms and type, should help attract new consumers, says Gill, extending the reach for brands.

“Focusing on content including video and live events is particularly appealing to brand partners and advertisers because it offers a much deeper and more meaningful opportunity to connect with an influential, young and interesting readership beyond just a standard press insertion,” he adds.

Print version below:

NME print

why we ‘like’ October 23, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in patrick mulford, social media, theaudience.
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PATRICK.001

I adore Patrick. We used to work together. He’s now in LA working for theAudience. I miss working with Patrick because he would tell you tales of the most amazing things, particularly his fascination with tattoos which you can explore in his book. And of course he was pretty decent as a Creative Director too. So it was a little treat to watch him perform on stage at Social Media Week in LA recently via the interwebs (you’ll need to register to watch which seems pretty anti-social and content equality but there you go). Why social media still needs a week is still beyond me. Direct mail never got a week. I still miss chromalin proofs. Anyway, Patrick’s argument is that social media just reflects what we do as humans. What we’ve always done. It’s just a new way of doing it.

He argues that social media is the new bedroom wall and given that we’re fond of sharing our associations and passions across social, he’s pretty spot on. And that we edit our own social content to project the ‘me that I want people to see.’ That memes and hashtags mitigate the risk of us normal people exposing ourselves and reduce the risk of sharing.

At theAudience, they break down social media into 4 things. Yes, only 4 –  a refreshing change versus the bollocks of the social world I shared yesterday.

1. It’s about communication.

2. It helps you create social identity through affiliation (to groups, people, stars, brands etc.)

3. It enables you to share life moments.

4. It helps you express mutual values and passions.

Common sense at last. No world-changing rhetoric, just a clear perspective on what social media does.

But put that aside because the real magic is the first 25 minutes or so of Patrick telling stories (and trying to hide in the shadows and wander around the stage). The story about Hemingway being challenged to tell a story in 6 words is beautiful. And one that every community manager charged with 140 characters should heed.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

The history and evolution of emotions explored by Robert Plutchick is staggeringly simple but also inspiring and helps the storyteller to shape stories to move between emotions seemingly at will.

emotions

And of course he references one of his tattoo journeys. Do buy the book, it’s not really about tattoos. It’s about human experiences and a very personal take on life. Although it was nice to see Patrick’s tattoos finally on display. And the neck scarf too.

Thank you Patrick. One day my friend, one day…

social media is bullshit October 21, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in social media.
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social photo 1

We’ve all wondered this at some stage surely? Probably when we’re sat in meetings and hear the word ‘engagement’ used so often you start imaging doing horrible things to the person using that word. Or to yourself if you’re the one saying it (I have). I borrowed this book from my copywriter, Ian. The first half seeks to debunk the entire mythology surrounding social media and in effect portrays it as something that has been created purely to create revenue for the people who talk social media up. The author takes down the ‘cyber hipsters’ and the glossy social campaigns that have been touted before us in the style of the second coming and venting much furious anger particularly at the likes of Chris Brogan who styled themselves as some form of social demi-god and challenged everyone who wasn’t getting returns in social that they just weren’t doing it right (i.e. come to me, pay me a truck load of dollar bills and I will help you). It’s fascinating. And makes you re-think the language we all use when talking about social media. The book then loses its way a little and goes off on some kind of road trip example of how social just doesn’t work. I think the author could have stopped half way and saved me another train journey reading it but hey. I’ll forgive him this though because who doesn’t like an Arnie quote as a chapter heading?

social photo 2

The author is clearly tapping into the unease people feel about social media and how people make it seem so complicated and that actually it’s so completely different from other media that we shouldn’t worry too much about how it contributes to sales. Well, what is the point then? People glibly say that they have moved on from the ‘vanity metric’ of Likes and follower counts but they haven’t really. When challenged to run a survey to draw out brand advocacy, purchase frequency and to re-run this activity every quarter to track impact of the activity, some brands (and agencies) shy away from this. Why? Will it expose the fact that social may not be working? Tracked well – and of course with some tight content that is core to the brand – social can contribute to direct sales or lead generation. Not tracked, you’re just contributing to the vagueness of social and the beigeness of the platforms.

It’s interesting to listen to this radio broadcast (or podcast) directly after reading this book. I struggled with a lot of the ‘social’ese’ being talked about but particularly that the ‘old way’ is to pay for attention on a media channel. With social media, you can create your own audience. Erm… Facebook and Twitter and the likes are essentially media platforms. Hungrily sucking your media dollars to get your shiny social content in front of your followers. You don’t play by their rules, you don’t win. They are advertising platforms. They are not free. You have to pay to be seen. And pay people to create that content that gets seen. And you have to determine if the investment you’re making is worth the 4,500 people who participated in a competition to choose the Asda Christmas tea towel campaign. Or whether £20,000 you paid to a You Tube vlogger to make a video baking cupcakes using Asda ingredients is good value. It probably was when he says it attracted 500,000 views (4p per view) but how many went on to buy? Did the loop get closed? You can bet when they spend £500,000 on Michael Owen for a TV commercial that the media impact gets analysed to death and that you see an impact in sales when the campaign is running.

Social media is also rife with play books, tips, tricks and formulas for success. One talked about in this radio show was that you have to create 10 posts of ‘engaging’ content, which Asda chap described as “it can sound like nonsense” in order to get across your 1 post that you want to ‘sell’ with or ‘get them to do what we want them to do.’ While on the one hand that explains the proliferation of posts telling us that it’s Friday, on the other, it contributes to the attack of the beige. Think about it. In what other media do you produce 10 pieces of nonsense and then one ad that tries to elicit a response?

I don’t think social media is bullshit but I do think we need to be very careful about how it is used and how we talk about it. We need to show it can be effective in helping a brand deliver it’s objectives. I like the way this Lego social person sums up how they measure social:

We measure ROI in four different ways: direct Sales, brand affinity building, marketing efficiency and our ability to mitigate risk/damage control.

tiny explosive ideas with tiny explosive coffee October 16, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in book review, growth hacking, marketing.
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book

Stop thinking about the “big” idea. The big idea that marketing searches for elusively. We’ve all sat in meetings searching for the big idea. Written briefs that demand a big idea. Followed a path of big media that will fuel a big idea. And moaned that either the agency can’t come up with the big idea or that the client isn’t brave enough to go with the big idea.

Well, forget the big idea. Because the growth hackers don’t need them, They focus on the tiny ideas that have an explosive, catalytic quality. Ideas that have propelled Airbnb, dropbox and even hotmail from start up to brands of hugeness seemingly overnight. The tiny ideas that as marketeers, we seem to have forgotten – or skip over because they’re not big enough. And tiny ideas that exclude marketing completely and re-focus energy into the product itself. Get the product fit first.

You don’t have to be a start up either to start re-thinking your approach to gaining customers and growing revenue – something all of us in marketing are guilty of when we are in the pursuit of ‘the launch’ of new products. The book challenges us to think again and get out of the formulaic box that we’ve allowed ourselves to crawl into.

This book is packed with examples and inspiration. And it’s also tiny in size. Easily consumed on a tiny plane doing a tiny European short haul hop.

Tiny is good. I’ll be thinking tiny and explosive from now on.

Thanks to Georgie at Profile Books for providing the book to review. I have not been paid for this review but obviously wouldn’t mind if it were on offer.

book2

agency fuel September 15, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in agency life, coffee, honest coffees.
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COFFEE

I do like a bit of coffee as my tweets will show. So a surprise package in the post from Honest Coffees was always going to go down well. Free coffee in the post. What’s not to like? Honest Coffees supply agencies and what-not with coffee subscriptions – proof that you can subscribe to anything these days. But given that agencies are fuelled by such substances to maintain the energy levels against the blank sheet of paper at the start of the day and the ebb and flow of internal and client rejection and adoration, this mailing seems a super-smart idea to me. I also noticed the close to sell-by date on the sample itself but I also think this is another smart idea to make sure your stock doesn’t go to waste. Mind you, coffee lasts forever right?

Now onto the tasting. The coffee is a dark roast called Smooth Operator. It’s a little too dark and bitter for me. Maybe I just haven’t got the levels right in the cafetiere?

say hello to your little friend – travel light August 11, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in business travel, gadgets, nomad, nomadkey, technology, Uncategorized.
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photo 2 photo 1

I’ve been doing a lot of business travel recently and one of the major pains is carrying all the leads and power cables for your various devices. So it was pretty timely that the guys at Nomad asked me to try out their new Nomadkey – a USB cable that’s well, key sized.

It’s small (yes, key sized), rubberised material and bendy and flexible. It fits snugly on your key ring or just in the many pockets of your bag. And it’s nowhere near as bulky as your phone charger. I travelled with both for a couple of trips because without phone power, you become paranoid but I left it at home the last couple of times. I seem to take my laptop with me so it’s easy just to plug it into that or the TV USB in the hotel room that I discovered on this.

It’s great. I use it all the time at my desk too rather than fiddling around with many wires and sockets.

I haven’t yet used the credit card version but I’m off again soon so will give it a whirl and update.

photo 3

Thanks to Olivia at Nomad. I have not been paid for this post.

this is what excellence in integrated digital communications looks like August 2, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, align technology, award, communique awards 2014, digital, Doner, integration, invisalign, social media.
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WINNERSme winner

We won an award recently and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. It was for the work we’ve been doing for Align Technology to generate awareness and lead generation for Invisalign across Europe.

The award was for the 2013 consumer campaign, “Smile and the Whole World Smiles With You” received the Excellence in Integrated Digital Communication award at the 2014 Communique Awards on July 3.

The Invisalign Smile campaign ran across key markets in Europe, where a mix of appointment-to-view television programming on digital channels was sponsored with integrated digital direct response, social media paid advertising, social media community activation programs, Pay Per Click, and digital innovations such as Zeebox in the UK and use of the new Twitter Card lead generation functionality. This strategic approach was designed to get more target consumers to ask for Invisalign treatment at dental practitioners and leveraged an integrated consumer marketing campaign that engaged and motivated people with problem teeth to start Invisalign treatment.

The award judges summed it up nicely:

“The beauty of this campaign is its demonstration of what could be achieved outside standard pharma practice. It was a paradigm in terms of its integration of carefully chosen, appropriate channels and had digital at its heart. It’s also very in-sync with where the industry is going to have to go in terms of the breadth and connectivity of different communications channels.”

 

AWRD1AWRD2

AWRD3

And it also worked, here’s what Raph, the VP International at Align had to say:

“The Invisalign Smile campaign had a significant impact including driving prompted brand awareness for Invisalign and achieving 30% growth for Invisalign lnfo Kit downloads and Find an Invisalign Provider searches. Our social media community grew a phenomenal 140% (2.5X) year on year and the Smile campaign helped to impact our total business objective by increasing Invisalign case submissions.”

 

Really terrific stuff. I’m really proud of this work. It shows what can happen when a client and agency work together in a proper relationship to deliver great things.

 

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