Archive for May, 2011

Brand Ambassadors – Do They Work?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

After the tragic dismissal of Kerry Katona, Stacey Solomon has filled the role of brand ambassador for Iceland.  This is great news for both parties as Stacey has recently received the ‘celebrity mum of the year’ award in March 2011 (for all its worth…!) and Iceland have great media coverage of Stacey actually using the brand products for her son, Zachary’s birthday party…looks like even celebrity mums go to Iceland!

Nick Canning, executive director of Iceland Foods commented on how natural both Stacey and Zachary came across on screen.  The rationale behind the campaign was to reappraise the Iceland brand as the mum’s of Britain’s first choice when entertaining for their children this summer.   Mr Canning was very cunning in his choice of celebrity in that he chose a mum that other mums could empathize with and therefore put their trust in the brand.

As we discussed last week, M&S are living proof that adverts using celebrities to promote products, if done properly, can work…, with the recent change of celebrities used to launch their new summer season range this demonstrates how vital it is to get the right person for the right brand…hello Lisa Snowdon!

Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach discusses the effects the ‘celebrity endorsed’ brands like Calvin Klein featuring icons such as Kate Moss in their advertisements (Chapter 1, page 15).  Using celebrities creates aura about the brand so it is important to create the right message to the right audience.  Calvin Klein has been the centre of much controversy due to the sexually ambivalent imagery using top icons and this is something that brands need to consider before entering into celebrity endorsed branding.

Facebook ‘Social Media’ or ‘Social Commerce’?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

In the context of social media, social commerce is defined as ‘e-commerce transactions’, this gives brands the opportunity to sell products and services through online social networking sites.  Is this a good idea and does this work for some industries and not so much for others…? This is questionable for music store HVM as they launch their Facebook Store.

Should social media and in particular, social networking sites be used as a selling platform?  A recent Marketing Week article expresses concern about using Facebook as a form of social commerce rather than using the networking site for what it was meant for, networking conversations around products.  With applications such as blogs, micro-blogs, social networking and media-sharing, there is too much happening under one heading – social media!  As a result of this there are concerns that HMV are wasting their time and distracting from where their real problems are.

It is important to remember that HMV have been very cautious when launching their Facebook Store…according to a research study the brand is currently redirecting consumers to the website to purchase products so they can view the music they are passionate about on Facebook initially.   HMV are testing the water before completely committing to Facebook as an online shop.  Does this work for some industries and not for others, will this work for academic publishing for example?

The Burger King Facebook viral campaign, featured in Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach, is an example of what brands, in the past, are using Facebook for, media attention! Maybe this is as far as social media investment should go for many brands (see chapter 13, page 355 for case study).

Easyjet’s plans to increase online presence.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Easyjet has appointed a new head of digital communications to boost presence online as the brand expands further into Europe.  Back in October Easyjet launched a ‘15 Hour Blogger Challenge‘  which saw four bloggers fly to Europe with Easyjet and visit a city each (Munich, Paris, Malta and Istanbul), where they had 15 hours and a £100 to spend to explore as much of the city as they could.  The visit was recorded on video which was then utilsed on the Easyjet blog and on YouTube, the bloggers also used Twitter as a resource to find out places to visit.  Will this challenge help raise awareness of the brand expand their customer base in Europe?

According to recent news reports Easyjet are planning to increase social media activity with posts about great travel destinations, latest route announcements and new competitions and prizes on popular networking sites like facebook and Twitter.  Twitter will be an effective tool as it is inline with their plans to increase routes in Europe, building on their business traveller portfolio.  Are other airlines jumping on the social media band wagon?

A report from the Daily Telegraph demonstrates how the relationship between global airlines and social media is deepening, however this correlation is not yet evident in the UK with only Delta and Easyjet launching Facebook and Twitter campaigns to communicate with their consumers.  US airlines have proven success in this area and it is clear that European airlines should allow their consumers to enter into discussions and provide constant feedback, instantly, in order to remain competitive.  It is therefore apparent that the aviation industry is one areathat has found social media to be a powerful marketing tool.  I guess it does depend on the nature of the brand as to how successful there social media marketing is.

Digital conversation platforms are discussed in chapter 16 of Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach. An interesting IBM Digital Consumer Survey in 2008, discovered the different rationales for different platforms. Consumers can communicate, connect and collaborate with brands; and this demonstrates the potential for digital conversations for many industries (see page 461 for further explanation).

The Apprentice show demonstrates to marketers what not to do!

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Last week’s episode should be a lesson to brands out there who just produce mobile applications as a matter of ticking all the boxes instead of actually investing time in creating an innovative application that has a real marketing strategy behind it.  This week’s Marketing Week reports on the failure of the lad’s app creation, Slangatang, What was its purpose? The emphasis should have been on what exactly the application does and how the brand can offer real value to the consumer.

There are some good apps out there though, Tesco have launched the first supermarket iphone app that allows consumers to shop on the go.  There is a rationale behind the campaign, consumers are always looking at more efficient ways to shop and make life easier for themselves.   Tesco is reported to have put significant budget behind the app advertising campaign; however the results show very strong ROI as they have received 1.5 million downloads across the app range so far.

It is clear that Tesco have provided more than just the novelty factor, they have created an app that could potentially change the way the majority of people shop. This is a platform that has been built to be fit for purpose- it’s very clever and in the words of Sir Alan “Business-wise right now, this is pretty much where it’s at.”

The buzz around last week’s episode is immense and only highlights what Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach focuses on, and this is that the message needs to be clear in order for the call to action to be effective and for the brand to connect with the consumer (refer to chapter 2, page 38 for further information).

Unique ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ Style Campaign Launch

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Marks & Spencer have done it again with yet another revolutionary marketing campaign… the brand has partnered with ITV to launch its first ever childrenswear advertising campaign, including a Britain’s Got Talent style competition which allows parents to upload video’s on ITV’s website in a competition to find young talent.  M&S’s collaboration with ITV includes TV, press, in-store and online activity.  This comprehensive campaign will have a huge impact on the success of their childrenswear range…I can’t wait to see what they will do next!

A  recent report shows that despite the drop in consumer spending and the increasing awareness that consumer confidence is low, this year M&S out beat expectations in the last quarter with strong increase in revenue for menswear and lingerie.  Chief executive, Marc Bolland put it down to the success of the marketing campaigns, with particular reference to the Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day promotions and how these had a strong impact on sales revenue.   With the recent increase in online promotion M&S have demonstrated how expanding their marketing mix can increase the impact of a single campaign with each element of communication complementing each other.

With a somewhat dreary year for retailers this year, M&S have produced a string of celebratory TV adverts that not only encourage consumers to purchase goods but promote their brand as the brand consumers can rely on.  The strap line for the new campaign ‘Do your thing’ is set to promote the childrenswear as a fashion-led range and as part of their wider strategy, taking on brands that currently have more market share.  The results speak for themselves and Marc Bolland certainly expects to see the benefits from this latest campaign in the first quarter!

M&S have demonstrated the impact of simultaneous marketing and there is a clear correlation between the launch of their campaigns, and the increase in the revenue for the particular range which is being promoted.  Marketing Communication: A Brand Narrative Approach, presents an interesting case study on a collaborative Volvo campaign that was extremely successful and demonstrates how the use of online and offline marketing can be extremely powerful  (Chapter 446).

BMW say ‘just advertise’

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Dan Creed, BMW’s top marketing executive, reported in a recent news report that the company plan to spend 68% of budget on TV advertising this year and 15% on digital marketing, whilst only 7% will be awarded to print.  This is a reflection on global industry’s move to digital from print and this is apparent with other global car manufacturers such as Chrysler.

The evidence speaks for itself as Disney’s quarterly financial review shows an increase in revenue for their television network, the BBC report states that this is as a result of an increase in TV advertising.  If it wasn’t for the increase in TV advertising all of Disney’s SBU’s would show a decrease in revenue…everybody is getting on board!

An interesting case study can be found in Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach (Chapter 13, page 358), whereby Lambient Media’s advertising campaign on their UK train ticket-booking service,, demonstrates well how the company can ‘RAM’ home the message to consumers, not only in Britain but across countries in Europe.

M&S are among many brands that dedicate more spend to TV advertising, they will continue to grow their brand and maintain market leadership through the use of celebrities in their adverts.  M&S are living proof that adverts using celebrities to promote products, if done properly, can actually work.  A recent report on the change of celebrities used to launch their new summer season range demonstrates how vital it is to get the right person for the right brand…bye bye Danni Minogue!

Starbucks new branded YouTube channel

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Starbucks are among many brands that have created a branded YouTube channel this year.  The company launched it’s first ever TV advert as part of their brand launch as a worldwide instant coffee provider back in 2009, we have not seen many TV related campaigns since!  Starbucks have gone from doing hardly any TV advertising at all to dedicating resources to new media channels.

Starbucks are using this form of marketing communication not merely as a ‘dumping ground for adverts’, a recent report shows that there is a lot of additional content that includes exclusive material with musicians like Jakob Dylan, James Mercer of the Shins, and Broken Bells.  In thevideo, Mercer plays Broken Bells’ track “The High Road” to a focus group of British kids and in addition, there are commercials, information about where how Starbucks sources its coffee, and relevant interviews.

Interestingly, Amazon update their YouTube channel on more of an ad hoc basis and have very few followers in comparison.  Why is this?  Amazon is the largest online retailer FULLSTOP…perhaps the leadership team feel that as an ‘online monopoly’, Amazon does not need to dedicate resources to other forms of online activity in order to remain so.  Not just Amazon though, there are other brands that do not have a branded channel such as, Visa, Oracle and ExxonMobil.   Are these brands missing out on connecting with their fan base?

Chapter 1 of Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach discusses the different changes in the media paradigm and supports the idea of flexible viewing when companies are pushing advertising campaigns (page 15).  So why wouldn’t companies make the most of this time flexible form of viewing, to provide viewers with more information and have a much stronger impact?  Whereas, a live commercial, if you blink, you might miss it…!

Increase in users connecting with brands on social networks

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Recent research shows that users are connecting with brands more through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, why is that…? A report from Marketing Week demonstrates the demographic who are in this online environment and establishes the reasons why.  One of the keyfindings was that wealthy users are more likely to connect with brands because of loyalty towards a particular brand and the desire to be kept informed about the brand.

This time last year the results showed a different story…consumers were reported to be looking for better deals and discount vouchers through entering competitions and signing up to receive information online.  Is this still true for the ‘non-affluent’ consumers, or 99% of the population…?-YES!!!  A similar study in 2011 shows that 77% of consumers connect with brands through social media to either receive discounts, coupons and free samples. It is however important to point out that a whopping 30% claimed to be following brands in order to obtain information on future sales…!

Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach demonstrates the power of the brand and the importance for marketer to establish long term strategies that evolve a constantly changing environment (Chapter 8: Building Brand Equity). It is therefore evident that marketers should offer incentives and create new ways to entice consumers to continue to follow their brand in order to achieve brand equity.  Brand online innovation is vital for all companies whose strategy is to maintain presence online and promote their brand through social media.

ITV’s X Factor holds auditions on YouTube and Facebook….what next?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Will the change to the audition process increase viewings for the show by attracting more people and encouraging more online engagement? –Marketing Week say YES…according to the recent report, auditions will take place initially on social media site, Facebook, and YouTube.   What about the traditionalists and the people who don’t actually know how to use these methods of communication…maybe this was deliberate?!

Britain’s Got Talent launched the same audition process back in March of this year, each contestant submitted a video on You Tube of their performance in the hope that they would be selected for a REAL audition! Apparently the show’s Hosts, Ant & Dec reported that this new method has uncovered some ‘hidden jewels’ in Britain.  You would think that this would reduce the time of the audition process, however this was not the case and this year’s auditions have in fact gone on for longer than ever before…!

Marketing Communications: A brand Narrative Approach describes the rationale behind using social networking sites like Facebook and the increasing number of businesses and consumers that are using new media as a form of communication, alongside traditional methods such as TV broadcasting (see Chapter 16 for more information).  It is interesting to see that even TV shows are using this.  Is new media really necessary for reality TV shows like X-Factor, or is it dragging out the show even more…?

Could the rationale behind this be to make it more difficult for certain potential entrants that may not be computer literate to enter the show, and to encourage more charismatic, maybe even slightly odd characters to audition for the show. Is this not a REALITY TV show?

Brands Increasing Social Media Spend?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Is it really a shock to hear that brands are increasing social media marketing spend this year…?- Blue Orbit, an independent marketing communications agency, reports that social media will be key in the majority of businesses marketing strategies for 2011.

The author team of Marketing Communications demonstrate the importance of an integrated marketing strategy from which each marketing activity can contribute quantitative measurements in different ways (Chapter 17, Marketing Communications: A brand Narrative Approach).

According to a recent industry report, marketers are set to increase their spend on social media by 10% much of which will go toward trying to find new Facebook fans (for further information visit, For many businesses the increase in budget awarded to social media will include outsourcing to social media agencies, could this be due to lack of resources and man power in house?…And should companies be spending more time training employees internally?

The question is, how are marketers planning to measure ROI, if at all…? The point of social media is not solely to track sales but to achieve brand engagement.  A study conducted in 2007 reported that direct sales revenue was not the top measure for determining social media success.  Has this changed and are marketers under more pressure to track ROI as more investment is poured into social media…?