Monday, 6 December 2010

The Obsession with Digital

The blindness in advertising and its surrounding rhetoric, is beginning to make me feel a bit sick. I read this article this morning on the ten best digital ad campaigns of, wait for it... the decade. One campaign that annoyed me a little was one where people tweeted messages during the Tour de France and the tweets would be painted on the road.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this idea, in fact it's kind warm and fuzzy. But there is nothing digital about it, certainly not enough to be a digital campaign of the decade. People like it is because it's tangible. And it certainly could have been done without twitter, seeing as they just picked out the cool ones to print anyway.

This is another example of a campaign that, rather than working by itself, relies almost entirely on being explained in Fast Company, not only to be understood at all but to generate the mass of publicity that is now expected from something where twitter is involved - beyond just the fans who came to watch at that exact point in the road. There is no mention of how much people liked it, or of its effectiveness in general. The story was posted because tweeting is (still) cool. Without an explanation that the messages were tweeted and that it is in fact for Livestrong, the campaign isn't much of a campaign at all. Put it this way, the only thing being retweeted (there is little original content on twitter) is the explanation of the campaign. Am I making sense? Only when people rewteet it because the content of the message moves them or such should it constitute good advertising, but the only thing being awarded here is the medium. The first half of it, in fact.

The idea that we need to separate digital advertising from any other advertising is the first mistake. Never forget that digital is a tool, not an end in itself. The paint in the road is what people want, not knowing that the paint was tweeted.

This also brings me to the idea of Digital Strategy. The way the term is currently being bandied about, people actually seem to mean channel tactics, or something similar. The actual practice of digital strategy is entirely un-strategic, it is tactical and reactive. Real brand strategy is pro-active - that is why it constitutes a strategy at all. Positioning, something which is not much affected by the latest fads and digital trends, is proactive, and what your equity is built upon.

Brand positioning IS the strategy, and "digital strategy" has nothing to do with positioning. So let's spend a little less time thinking about digital and more time thinking about the brands and what they stand for, which when done properly can be a lot more tangible and meaningful than a fleeting tweet.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Future of Advertising

This morning I read an article in Fast Company, which really got at why advertising is so tough now, why everyone is so lost, and why the people who were once known for building great brands are now bowing to computer geeks and search freaks. Read at least the first page to get an idea before you read on.

While I was reading, some words and phrases literally jumped right off the page at me:

"Fragmented consumer attention"

"Digital is incremental"

"Respond in real time to an unpredictable audience" [my god...]

And my personal favorite from the old guard, now so distracted by the geeks that they forgot what they came here to do:

"I'm a person petrified to fail."

These things sound to me like pretty much everything that good branding is not about. All this chasing. All these analytics. In fact, all this "essential" two-way micro-conversation with customers. Chase, test, measure, tweak, test. Who sent us barking up this tree? What a horrific concept of personality. These sound like the actions of a perfectly awful and avoidable brand.

Alan Watts said that we can peer down a microscope and say "Look! I've found something smaller than the atom, the electron!" And then someone else says that they've found something even smaller, the quark. We can keep going and going with all our new technology, but when will these particles stop getting smaller? What is it exactly that we expect to find? That we've really got them now! Found you!

What happened to building equity?

Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum we have the guys who seem to have it too easy in almost every regard (haters gonna hate):

Which brand is everybody's favorite? Apple. Right.
Which brand still buys TV and billboards? Apple.
Which brand builds brick and mortar stores you actually want to visit?

Just sayin.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Photos are up!

Check out some of my photographic bits and pieces here: