Monthly Archives: February 2009

The regional press needs to let go of print

This week’s news that

Trinity Mirror took exception to my headline ‘We’re not publishers anymore’

Newspapers should resist the allure of charging for content

we all know that desperate times can call for desperate measures but I firmly believe newspapers would be wrong to try and turn backthe clock and reintroduce a pay subscription model for its online content.

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I was talking to an American the other day.He was a big, loud, funny guy and he had on a nice suit.

He was Jewish, and he was from Brooklyn.

He was in the oil import/export trade, and I asked him how business was.

He said, “It’s really interesting: these WASPY guys from the CIA came to see me.”I asked him what they wanted.He said, “These super-straight, buttoned-down guys came to my house.They said they’d noticed that I did a lot of travelling to the middle east.They wanted to know if I’d gather intelligence for them.”I said, “What did you say?”He said, “What do you think, I’m crazy? I told them I wouldn’t actively go out of my way, but if I saw anything I thought they could use, I’d let them know about it.”I said, “What did they say to that?”He said, “They asked what sort of thing I thought I could spot that might be useful.”I said, “What did you tell them?”He said, “Usually when the main fuel dump is half full they call up one of my tankers to come in and top it up.Supposing the fuel dump is completely empty, and they want the tankers to come and refill it? That could be because they’ve just filled up all their military vehicles ready for an invasion. I said I could tip them off about that?”I said, “What did they say?”


When social media goes BAD.

After attending our ‘Engage for Social Media’ conference today,I can now wholeheartedly confirm exactly what I’ve been suspecting for some years: that social media is perhaps the most exciting, dynamic, innovative form of advertising ever to exist. That’s until, obviously, someone invents 3D interactiveTVs that enable you to taste new products and smell new perfumes, and hologramatic shop assistants who enter your home upon request,knowing exacly what your likes anddislikes are…. One day people, one day.
It’s a marketing discipline with stories.Alongside the now-obligatory Obama example, who’s clearly made an impact in social media circles, each speaker had a new and interesting tale to tell about how brands such as Pepsi, LG, Orange and Cadbury have used a range of platforms to great effect. Not always necessarily more sales I might add, but in the case of Market Sentinel they were happy to announce that Cadbury created £25 of revenue through monitoring conversations about Wispa.
What was interesting, however, were the questions about what happens (likeone of those late night Channel 5 shows…) when SOCIAL MEDIA GOES BAD. It’s certainly a common concern from brands, what do they do if their social media activityis misintepreted in some way, received badly or achieves negative coverage and generaly just pisses people off (I doubt that would ever be an original campaign objective?) I can understand why, with a lack of experience in the area this may be a worry, however we need to stop thinking about social media in such separate terms, and as a ‘whole new world’, because advertising is advertising, regardless of the channel. How often do you think clients approach the production of a TV ad with caution, in fear of a negative reaction? In my opinion a poor TV ad can be far more harmful to a brand and the resulting public perception can last a lot longer. The fact is, with TV or most traditional media you have very you have very little control over how it is received (going back to thewhole sender-receiver model of communication, etc etc), yet with social media you have more control than ever. You can listen, respond and adapt your marketing to suit your audience, and this activity can be ongoing. As Emily Dent, head of content at St Lukes said in the opening presentation this morning, obviously people often talk about campaigns in advertising, but with social media it’s essential to not think only in these terms, because essentially you’re letting your brand live online. And even making mistakes can provide a valuable lesson!

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Editor’s blog: Trimble’s University Challenge to UK economy

I woke up this morning to find Gail Trimble, the captain of last night’s winning University Challenge team, doing a round of media interviews. This young woman is supposedly the cleverest contestant they’ve ever had on the show – half the time, she seemed to be answering Paxo’s questions before he’d even started asking them, from Euripides’ Bacchae to the Asian Dub Foundation. Unfortunately for her, this hasn’t gone down well on the weird wide web – every man and his blog has been slagging her off for being smug and arrogant. Suddenly she’s on Radio 4 trying to justify the fact that she’s got a brain the size of Canada.

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Facebook Connect is VERY important

The internet is a hugely disjointed and messy place. How many logins do you have? How many times do you have to enter payment details? There’s only one ‘you’ so it seems ridiculous that you have to do all the leg work on the internet. Companies try to make processes simpler and Microsoft has done a good job of this with its Live accounts. Likewise for Google. Facebook however, is the first to launch itself head first into joining up the dots outside of its own property.

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Where are the celebrities?

Iggy Pop

You can use celebrities in marketing campaigns to grab the attention of consumers. This is a basic rule of branding taught at GCSE level upwards and is used all the time on TV, in cinemas, in print, on the radio. Where then, are the celebrities in online advertising?! Ignoring the obvious film and TV campaigns, I can’t recall a single online advert that uses a celebrity to associate with a product or service and certainly not for a standalone online campaign.

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Editor’s blog: Sadness as Saab reaches the end of road

For reasons of late development, I did. Having kicked off my driving careerin 1984 with a 250 Morris Marina (gorgeous in sun-faded red), worked my way through a Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible (written off by a moonlighting Chinese chauffeur in a Cadillac), made do with a one-litre VW Polo (lean, early 90srecession years) and then completed the century with a Saab 1995 900S, I finally got my new Saab 9/3 in 2001 and still drive it every day.

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The green shoots of opportunity

Government ministers have, in the past, got into hot water for merely mentioning the words ‘green shoots’ when times are tough. We all know the UK economy is officially in recession. However, unlike Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, I won’t be talking the economy down. I fear the wrath and another four-letter outburst from business secretary, Lord Mandelson, if I did so! Times are indeed tough and every day we read and hear about another business shedding jobs. Yesterday, Bradford-based Stylo, owner of Barratts shoes, announced it was closing 220 stores and cutting 2,500 jobs.

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Love magazine needs to do more than take Beth Ditto’s clothes off to be cutting edge

Newsstandsacross the country will befeeling the strain this morningfollowing the arrival of Conde Nast’slatest style bonanza,Love magazine.Weighing a hefty 1.5kg, the oversized glossy might carry the strapline ‘Fashion and Fame’ but it’s anything but a ‘light read’.

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