Friday, 18 November 2011

London City brand experience event snowballs into online marketing success

Earlier in the month London City Airport approached MotivAction's brand experience team to engage with London city-types to make it their airport of choice when they’re thinking of heading off for some fun on the slopes this winter.

As you’d expect, the team here came up with a really lovely idea to install a giant snowglobe in the Jubilee Mall at Canary Wharf. Passers-by were encouraged to jump into our snow-filled paradise, pop on a few ski-wear props and have their photo taken by our very own professional photographer. These were then downloaded onto a computer and the entrant’s details captured so they can view a web gallery after the event.

There’s no doubt this was a success – those that got involved enjoyed a fantastic Friday lunchtime treat and the client felt their brand was properly represented. The biggest impact was probably made by the hoards of city workers that may have considered themselves to be ‘too cool for school’ to actually get in the snowglobe themselves. But this didn’t matter as they were absolutely crucial for promoting our message beyond Canary Wharf. They spent a good portion of their lunch hour taking pictures and video on their phones and spreading the message for us far and wide through Facebook and Twitter.

How cool is that?!

Posted by Andy Cording, Brand Experiences Account Manager, The MotivAction Group

Friday, 21 October 2011

Some thoughts on powering an ancient brand

Select the satellite view on Google maps and search for a town in Morocco called Merzouga. If you zoom in really close in to the outskirts of town where it meets the red sands of the Sahara desert you may notice a very faint black line which, if you carefully follow it for a couple of miles, you'll see that it snakes out to a series of canvas covered buildings owned by the indigenous tribe of Morocco: The Berbers.

The Berbers have inhabited the hostile and arid desert for thousands of years - happily surviving in seemingly impossible conditions. Not only do they have the stultifying heat to contend with but they must look after their families and animals, ensuring they have enough food and water. In addition, they’ve had to achieve this amongst the backdrop of constant invasions: from the ancient Greeks, the empirical Romans, and most recently by tourists wanting to live a bit of the real life by taking camel treks out to their encampments and to spend the night living with The Berbers under the stars amongst the dunes.

The Berber story is quite impressive. In amongst all this change the Berbers have stuck true to their roots by always maintaining their identity, their traditions and lifestyle whilst adapting to new regimes, religions and, even, tourism. A good example of this is that faint black line I mentioned in the first paragraph. It’s an eight inch cable that feeds power to these seemingly isolated camps. It allows tourists to have hot water, a flushing toilet and stoves for the hosts to cook on. And do you know what? The Berbers make a tidy living out of it. Not bad eh?

It led me to thinking that The Berber brand is probably one of the longest brands to have survived. And the only way they’ve managed to do it is to adapt or die. I think many modern day brands could learn from that little black electric cable that heads out into the desert.

Posted by Andy Cording, Brand Experiences Account Manager , The MotivAction Group

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Apple of the Brand Eye

Ironic life isn’t it? On the day I attend a breakfast briefing on the power of brands, heavily featuring one of the world’s super brands, Apple, news comes through of its inspirational leader’s passing. Think Apple; think Steve Jobs. Think Steve Jobs; think Apple. The signature of truly great brands is their ability to live on beyond the company’s products, services…and people. This surely is going to be the biggest test of Apple’s claim to be a truly great brand. How much of their swashbuckling, pioneering, maverick, user consciousness and human style is the personality of their most famous leader and how much is part of the Corporation’s DNA. The future months and years will reveal all.

In the meantime, here are some inspiring words from the great man. Steve Jobs, RIP.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
– Stanford commencement speech 2005
Steve Jobs 2“There’s nothing that makes my day more than getting an e-mail from some random person in the universe who just bought an iPad over in the UK and tells me the story about how it’s the coolest product they’ve ever brought home in their lives. That’s what keeps me going. It’s what kept me five years ago [when he was diagnosed with cancer], it’s what kept me going 10 years ago when the doors were almost closed. And it’s what will keep me going five years from now whatever happens.”
- AllThingsD Conference, 2010
“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
– Playboy magazine 1985
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Business Week 1998
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”
– Wall Street Journal 1993
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”
- Wired magazine, 1994
“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”
– Fortune magazine 2000
“Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10.30 at night with a new idea, or because they realised something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
– Business Week 2004
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
– Stanford commencement speech 2005
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
– Stanford commencement speech 2005

Monday, 5 September 2011

The most ‘on-brand’ resignation letter I’ve ever seen

So, Steve Jobs has finally resigned as Apple's CEO. For me, the most interesting part of this story is the way in which he penned his resignation letter. It wasn’t bitter or self-pitying, it was just so 'on brand' in its tone and affections for Apple's staff and community. In it he said that he would:  "…like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee." and signed off with: "…and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you."
These are humble sentiments coming from a man that is regarded as having saved Apple in the mid-90's - wrestling it from the clutches of failure and turning dull PC's in grey boxes into a set of highly desirable products and design icons.
Rather than positioning himself as the saviour, I'm impressed with the way he's been able to put ego to one side and understand that although the brand wouldn't have sky rocketed without his intervention, the Apple brand experience, it's personality, the diversity of its game-changing products and its tone of voice have developed a life of their own and has become so much bigger than him.
It's hard enough to walk away from something you've given a lifetime's work to but to do it in such a manner deserves respect. Here's to Apple and good health to Mr Jobs.

Posted by Andy Cording, Brand Experiences Account Manager 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Are the wheels falling off your brand experience? A cautionary tale…

I love my bike. I shouldn’t, but I do. When I tenderly lifted it out of its packaging just after it had been delivered to me I was shocked and disgusted to find bubbles of rust beneath the paint, at the top of the forks. There shouldn’t have been rust on it, I bought it from new. And, when I’m charging up and down the roads and towpaths of East Herts the chain, more often than not, will unceremoniously slip off, leaving me coasting with my legs spinning like Wylie Coyote’s after he’s discovered he’s run out of road. Even though I end up with greasy hands after every trip; even though the saddle was designed by medieval torturers; and even though there are no gears and only one brake: I love this bike. It’s obviously a bag of spanners and I was so obviously ‘done’ out of £100 but I think I look great on it. You see, it’s one of those ‘sit up and beg’ bikes that you find in Amsterdam. You know the type: swept back handlebars and trendy light grey, skinny tyres. It’s the type of bike that only harmless eccentrics would buy, and that’s precisely why I bought it. There was no advert that persuaded me to buy it – I deliberately hunted it down on eBay. It was the next piece in the jigsaw of the brand vision that I had created for myself. Instead, I’ve been let down by a sub-standard product which has left me fixing my bike on the side of the road while other really trendy Home Counties dudes with more common sense than me vroom past and scatter me with dust in their brand new cabriolets. So learn from my mistake: if you want your brand to succeed, invest in it properly. Posted by Andy Cording, Brand Experiences Account Manager

Friday, 19 August 2011

Brand Experience: Reality bites for Abercrombie & Fitch

As far as live events go, the American reality TV show Jersey Shore is (for anyone under the age of 25) a global success. Never the less, as far as branded events go, the fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch are adamant it won’t be an event with their logo slapped all over it. So appalled are they with the behaviour of the show’s star, Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino that this week they have reportedly paid him significant sums of money NOT to wear their clothes on screen in order to protect the brand they have spent millions of dollars cultivating. Given that this show is adored by fans all over the world you can see why they're getting a little hot under their preppy, pastel coloured polo collars.

Is this simply a highly effective bit of brand PR during the annual summer news slowdown (this subject was even deserving of 5 minutes airtime on BBC Radio 4!) or, heaven forbid, the beginning of an anti-sponsorship phenomenon?  Historically, brands have had ultimate control about whose svelte or ripped bodies their brands are seen on, but with the advent of YouTube and 24 hour rolling reality churning all spectrums of suspect behaviour out of our screens, brands could quickly find themselves having to spend more and more of their time and money in the bizarre situation of 'unpromoting' their products.

Not all brands have had the foresight or frankly the guts to do this - do you remember when Daniella Westbrook accessorised her whole life in Burberry? A&F, however, have always been outspoken and never shied away from telling the public what it feels which is why I think the much anticipated PR backfire won’t necessarily happen. Whether you think them arrogant or not, A&F have laid a very clear marker in the sand by stating that they are certainly not associated with the common 'dross' of reality television and instead are the exclusive label for those preppy enough to turn their backs on the quick fix of fame reality TV promises.

Now, where did I put my matching Burberry sock and underwear set?

Posted By Andy Cording, Brand Experiences Account Manager at The MotivAction Group

Friday, 12 August 2011

…and the best branded world record goes to...

I stumbled across this list of world records set by some of the world's biggest brands the other day, as part of their brand communications campaigns.

At number four, in homage to one of Belgium’s most famous export:

To mark the release of The Smurfs 3D movie, Sony created Global Smurfs Day. Eleven countries, including the UK, helped set a record for 'The largest gathering of Smurfs in 24 hours', with 4891 people donning blue paint and Smurf hats for the occasion.

At number three, one of the more bizarre parties I wish I’d been invited to:

IKEA set a record for the 'Largest crayfish party', with 4967 people attending events at 19 stores in the UK and Ireland. The crayfish party is a Swedish festival to mark the start of the crayfish season and is usually accompanied by copious amounts of schnapps.

At number two, one bar bill I’m glad I didn’t pick up:

The Antique Wine Company set a record for the 'Most expensive bottle of wine'. The item in question was a standard 750ml bottle of 1811 Chateau d'Yquem, which was sold for £75,000.

And finally, my favourite:

Warner Bros created the 'Longest red carpet at a film premiere' for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. It stretched 455m from Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square in London.

Posted by Andy Cording, Brand Experiences Account Manager

Good Brand Ambassadors are Vital to Brands

I attended a really fascinating workshop this week run by Karen, our Account Director for a major telecomms client. Our team at MotivAction are running some store openings around the UK and part of that process involves us selecting talented young brand ambassadors to be the face of our client during the launch. What was pleasing to see was a) just how bright, enthusiastic and eager our ambassadors are and b) just how much work our team puts into training them.

However, the aspect of the workshop that really stuck in my mind was Karen's talk about brands. It was a very insightful overview about the fact that a company or organisation's brand is so much more than simply their logo. She reminded them that our client’s brand is actually the way the organisation is perceived by their customers; the way the brand behaves and the things it represents. It just seemed to sum up quite nicely everything that MotivAction works so hard to achieve on behalf of its clients.

Posted by Andy Cording, Brand Experiences Account Manager

Thursday, 12 May 2011

This week’s new brand experience stuff

Our Design Team has been working on creative brand experience ideas for installations intended to showcase young film makers’ short videos. The gallery concept displays short excerpts from the film and interviews with the production team, as well as memorabilia from the film. A central installation runs VT of all nominated films across multiple screens in a main event hub (aka the food and drink area!).

Dump the ‘Golf Sale’ sandwich board and get an ex skateboarder to cut loose with some ‘sign spinning’ for your field marketing. Attention grabbing and highly entertaining – great for steering traffic to your local presence.

Mobile home anyone? Nice idea for temporary event space, and pretty economical, inflatable marquees are attractive and work for anything from an oasis for high street shoppers to hosting a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding!

And finally, a bit of retro. Old stuff is cool (at least that’s what many of us 30/40 somethings are claiming to help us feel in touch with trends!). One the latest products we’ve used is the retro-style photo booth. Old fashioned, but with the latest technology - great quality photo strips, touch screen, customizable and green. Say cheese!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Experience This! Live Brand Experience Ideas

Here are a few of the ideas our Brand Experiences team have been looking at recently

Let It Snow - Snow Globes

We’ve been looking at alternative uses for our Snow Globes that toured the UK’s shopping centres in a brand experience campaign so successfully over the Christmas period. Ideas range from housing live challenges influenced by TV show ‘The Cube’ to creating a unique 5 minute holiday where people get to put their feet up, relax on a sunlounger and enjoy a mocktail and massage.

On the Move

Some of the latest designs for mobile marketing – from creating a front room on the high street to a focal point for newspaper distribution at festivals.

Green Graphics

We continue to be big fans of eco-friendly brand print solutions.

The Eco-Banner stand is a paper based banner stand that is made from recycled and 100% recyclable material and printed with environmentally friendly inks. It comes in a small box and only weighs 3kgs making it exceptionally easy to transport. When the artwork is no longer relevant, it can simply be recycled at your nearest cardboard recycling centre instead of re-shipping banner stand cartridges across the country.  

Friday, 18 March 2011

Brand sponsorship - a good live brand experience?

Having seen the best football team in the history of the world give the best football team in England a lesson on how to play, I felt I needed to voice my opinion on a brand awareness sponsorship deal announced late last year by Barcelona football club.

It was mentioned that FCBarcelona will for the first time have a sponsor named on their shirt, ending 111 years of history. Their association with Unicef will remain, however the prominent name for next year will be The Qatar Foundation, a non profit organisation based in Qatar, home of the 2022 World Cup.

If you have a lot of money and are thinking of igniting your brand with a brand experience on the world stage can you think of a better way than spending £25 million a year on shirt sponsorship?

The biggest splash so far has been the PR around the deal. The Qatar Foundation are not on the shirt yet, however the brand awareness has risen enormously, and unfortunately not all the publicity is positive. The Mail Online reported that allegedly the Qatar Foundation has given money to a cleric who advocates terrorism, wife beating and anti semitism.

Not all publicity is good publicity when it comes to brand experiences and brand awareness.A successful 'Brand Experience' is not necessarily the one that captures the headlines it is the one that touches positively the people to whom it is targeted.

FC Barcelona sells around 1.2 million shirts a year, over 5 years that's 6 million shirts. If we say that at least 5 people not wearing a shirt will see someone wearing a shirt, the cost per person to the Qatar Foundation for that brand marketing is only £4.13 per person. That's not bad business. I wonder what they intend to do with this new awareness?

By Peter Lindsay