Monthly Archives: January 2010

Editor’s blog: The iPad – a sanitary lesson in marketing

The iPad is another gorgeous and intensely desirable Apple product. And could it save the publishing industry?

I’m the only PC in our house. Between the pair of them my wife and oldest son have two desktop Macs, a Macbook, an iPhone and an iPod Touch. And for his 15th birthday. the boy will be pushing to convert his Sony Erickson to an iPhone. Dream on, kid – you’ll only get mugged.

Me? I’ve got an old Acer, a Nokia and I’m writing this on a fairly disgusting geriatric Dell with more bacteria and skin bits in the keyboard than the cold drawer in an undertakers. Our designers here in the office, beautiful people both, use Macs (don’t ask). I may be a PC person – they do the job and rarely let me down – but there’s no passion in it. It really is pathetic that the best that Dell can come up with in an effort to make their laptops look desirable is to knock a few out in lurid pink. Acer bought out a ‘Ferrari’ model a while back featuring some carbon fibre. Purleez.

The point, of course, is that Apple is a sublimely brilliant brand. It’s a design-led company that makes beautifully crafted, thoroughly gorgeous and intensely desirable objects. And the fact that the iPhone is almost as ubiquitous as a BMW 3 series hasn’t seemed to lessen its appeal. Apple doesn’t have customers: it has disciples. They believe. So I watched Jobs last night in the ritual announcement. (Why can’t they get him a decent pair of jeans? If you only weigh seven stone you need to take great care how you dress.) My first reaction was that his super duper new iPad looked like an iPhone on steroids. It doesn’t take pictures or video, can’t run Flash and has that wretched internal battery but I bet he shifts them by the containership load. And Amazon won’t like the look of iBooks, which will sell bestsellers for as little as $4.99.

Those citizens who are getting especially excited about the iPad are the beleaguered members of the newspaper and magazine industry. Take a look at this from Time Inc who own Sports Illustrated. The live action swimsuit issue may belong back in the days of Mad Men, but there are plenty of saddo guys who will be thrilled to see those babes in bikinis actually move. Whether this offers one possible route to salvation for the inky world of print is questionable. Michael Wolff doesn’t think so. But I certainly wouldn’t mind letting you read MT like this. If you’ll pay for it.

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Creatives don’t understand selling

Mike Greenlees used to tell me he hated presenting ads with
creatives in the room.

He said one of the worst to present ads with was David
Abbott.

I asked him why.

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Why consolidation in OOH is inevitable

Although the industry welcomes consolidation in Out-of-Home market, comments posted on the article on this site by persons unknown once again raise issues about relationships between large buyers and sellers of the media.

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Editor’s blog: Grey hairs on the march

The grey hairs are on the march – today there is more pressure for the UK retirement age to be scrapped. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has vowed to make getting rid of the compulsory 65 retirement age a centre-piece of its election campaigning. This is likely to force the hand of the three main political parities to make pledges about what they may or may not do in this area. As things stand the retirement age is fixed at 65 although employees can request an employer to allow them to continue beyond this age. This will rise to 66 for men and women but not until 2024. (The French , by the way, clock out for the last time at 60 but in the USA 20% of the workforce continues until the ripe old age of 69.)

Of course, fairness as little to do with the political attraction of getting rid of the 65 cut off point. It won’t have escaped your notice that we’re currently skint as a nation and a few more individuals who continue to work beyond 65 – thus not drawing a costly pension and continuing to pay their tax and National Insurance are all good news for our hard pressed Treasury coffers. But it seems to me that an increased degree of flexibility makes a lot of sense. However there are plenty of individuals who once they’ve reached 65 with 45 plus years of hard labour under their belt have had enough and wish to put their feet up. There’s nothing to be ashamed about in this. There’s also an argument that with growing numbers of youth unemployed it makes sense for the oldsters to make way for kids after a job. One things for sure – the last thing business needs is hundreds more disastrous industrial tribunals caused by disagreement about showing the elderly the exit, clasping the gold watch.

Age seems to be on the mind of many at the moment. Even Martin Amis has joined in. Amis, who is seeking some publicity to crank up sales of his latest novel, has now reached the age of 60. He’s chosen to pick a fight with the grey hairs by declaring that he believes the UK is facing a “civil war” between the youth and the elderly as a “silver tsunami” of the old and knackered put pressure on all our services.

IN a satirical attack in the line of Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” Amis states that “they’ll be a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops.” He goes on to advocate that there should be euthanasia booths on every corner where the infirm who have had enough could “get a martini and a medal.” Funny that few artists retire. And it’s not because they’re self-employed and they mistakenly put what pension contribs they had into the useless Equitable Life. The fact that they keep on keeping on doesn’t mean they’re turning out quality material, though. How many great works of art have been produced by the post-65s, I wonder? Beethoven may have been deaf and on his last legs when he produced his late String Quartets but he was only in his 50s. Picasso spent his later years just taking the piss. And Amis – well, Money, his finest novel, was published in 1984 when he was 34. Perhaps Little Mart should get himself a job in B&Q – then he might not feel quite so miserable.

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Paid news debate: What does the Internet Advertising Bureau think?

At IAB Engage 2009 one of the panelists during the press session said that paid-for definitely will happen, but more likely is a hybrid model, some content paid for and some not. Of course there’s merit in both paid and ‘free’ advertising funded content depending on the audience. However, the big question for the advertising industry remains: as pay-walls come into place, what does it mean for internet advertising?

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Is football a brand or a product?

Last night I went to a live football game.I haven’t been to a live game since they put seats in the
grounds. When I was young we used to go to West Ham when they were
playing at home.

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2010 Watch: To pay or not to pay?

As we continue to search for resolution in the free versus paid for debate, an unlikely meeting of minds has united Rupert Murdoch and DJ Shadow.

Much of the talk throughout 2009 centred around the thorny issue of how media owners could get paid for the content they supply to us web users. The discussion of course ramped up towards the end of the year when Rupert Murdoch began to suggest that he would introduce pay walls to protect the content distributed by the various arms of his media empire.

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Editor’s blog: Cadbury goes the same way as our cars

I’m annoyed and sad about what’s happening to Cadbury – though some of the responses have been pathetic.

So that’s that then: it’s all over bar the photoshoot. Irene Rosenfeld will appear strolling the streets of Bournville, meeting the quaint little Brummie chocolatiers, gripping her Curly Wurly, declaring she’s held a secret, lifelong devotion to Creme Eggs and really respects their fine Quakery CSR heritage. Then she’s back to the grim office in Northfield, Illinois – never to darken the UK’s shores again – to work out how on earth she’s going take the axe to the cost base in a rearguard effort to pay the interest bills on that £7bn.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m not annoyed and a little sad about Cadbury’s fate, even if it was probably right to let the market do its work. Some are saying the board gave Cadbury away and should have gone for at least £9 per share. But the most important thing is that there goes another part of UK business down the same route as our car industry, Pilkington, P&O, Abbey, BAA, Manchester United, O2… the list goes on.

The faint bleats of protest from the Cadbury family were a bit pathetic – if they don’t like the cut of the Oreo-wielder’s jib, they shouldn’t have cashed-in their chips and taken the company public in the first place – which has enabled several generations of Cadburys to live in genteel comfort.

But the prize for the most fatuous meaningless response to the news comes from our PM. ‘The one thing I want to say is this: we are determined that the levels of investment that take place in Cadbury in the United Kingdom are maintained’. A more empty and futile piece of willy-waving it would be hard to imagine. What on earth is HMG going to do to stand in Kraft’s way now?

The banks who’ve done the advising will be laughing all the way to their strongrooms, of course. You can bet that the Masters of the Universe at Lazard, Centerview Partners, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS have been making out like bandits after toiling until 3am on this one. The same goes for all those hedge funds who’ve been racking up Cadbury shares.

On the subject of unfortunate takeovers by those from abroad, I should be rejoicing today as my club West Ham has now been taken back from its feckless Icelandic owners and is once again in British hands. This would be all well and good if it hadn’t fallen into the clutches of a couple of pornographers (one of whom supports Tottenham). A colleague here has already renamed them Chest Ham. You just can’t win if you’re a Brit these days.

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Outdoor shock tactics: some lessons to be learnt

A number of people have asked me why I haven’t commented here on the furore surrounding the Outdoor Advertising Association’s controversial campaign through ad agency Beta. Frankly, apart from not liking kicking someone when they’re down, fools rush in, and I wanted to comment after the initial noise died down and emotions are in a less heightened state.

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Why a tax on online advertising makes no sense

There has been a fair amount of recent media coverage and comment about a report – “Creativity and Internet” – commissioned by the French Culture Minister which includes a proposal to levy the online advertising revenues of the likes of Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and AOL. The aim of the levy is to raise money for the French creative industry. Whilst it’s not clear as to whether the French Government will seriously consider this proposal (although President Sarkozy has welcomed the report), Google has already publicly opposed the idea stating that it could “slow down innovation” and that it is “disproportionate.”

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