Is “push to add drama” truly the best ad? Yes, for the agency.

Do you remember how TNT Benelux launched?
Odds are high you don’t even know what I’m talking about… (based on small-scale research, see below).

But if I’d ask you whether you recall a really cool video starring a big, red button in the middle of a town square – flanked with a sign that said “push to add drama”, chances are high you know what I’m talking about…
(based on small-scale research, see below).

The Best Ad in the World

Do I love the ad? Hell yeah!
Do I believe this is the best ad in the world? Hell no!

Why it isn’t the best advert in the world

To determine whether a specific ad is good or not, one has to look at the goals that were set before the advert was made. I have to be honest here, I don’t know the advertiser’s goals. But I believe they can be one or more of the following:

  • Awareness of the Brand TNT – it was a product launch after all
  • Drive ratings for the TV Channel – which impacts the bottom line of TNT
  • Brand building: make TNT’s identity
  • Other goals?

So in the last couple of weeks I ran an experiment to know whether this great concept also proved to be the best ad ever made (as I read somewhere). And once again, I need to be honest. The hypothesis I was looking to back up through research was:

“Push to add drama is the best ad for the agency that made it.”

Experiment Design

The experiment design consisted of two groups:

  • People within the Marketing, Communication, Ad industry
  • People outside of that industry

Next to that, the experiment asked whether they knew the brand for whom this video was made (in 2 distinctive manners) and whether they have been watching TNT Benelux so far. Hence the questions after viewing the movie:

  • For which brand is this video made?
  • For which newly launched TV station this video was aired? Tip: logistics, explosives.
  • Have you watched TNT Benelux?

Experiment Results

Experiment results

Experiment results


Experiment conclusion?

In general people don’t recall the brand promoted through the viral video. Even when I provided extra tips to them: “explosives (=TNT)” & “logistics (=TNT)”. Consequently it shouldn’t surprise that only 1 out of 35 respondents watched the channel. Within my respondents nobody went to see the website of TNT Benelux.

Well done Agency!

The most striking thing however is that the “Marketing, Communication, Advertising Group” of respondents basically all knew which agency made this ad / viral movie. And today, they’re all dreaming about a collaboration with that agency. It was the best ad in the world. For the agency that is.

What’s your view on viral advertising by the way?

Who's ever going to tag this QR code anyway? On AXA Bank's outdoor ad.

Axa puts a qr code on large format print ad on a busy road

Axa puts a qr code on large format print ad on a busy road

During one of my many escapades on the road, I came across the advert above. The ad is to promote a beneficial “renovation loan” and the offer is only valid until the end of 2011. So you’d better renovate your home this year to get the deal, right?

Don’t bother answering the above question. I have different issues with the ad. I believe the ad demonstrates that many marketers still don’t understand technology from a consumer mindset. I also believe that the usage of the QR code in the ad was solely driven on the fact that earlier that year a competitor launched a campaign in which the QR code was given a rather central position. So the ad clearly demonstrates “old-school competitor based marketing”. But let’s start by briefly describing the ad.

Description of the ad

The large format printed advert is clearly divided into two separate yet linked parts.

  • Right frame: the right frame contains the advertising copy and the logo of the company. The copy states “Axa proclaims 2011 as year of renovation”. People should link renovation with renovating a house and a special renovation loaning. So far so good, I managed to get that.
  • Left frame: the left frame is an image. It seems as it depicts the act of tearing down your house’s wallpaper and running into a hidden QR code behind it. I didn’t see wallpaper in the left frame while driving by. But I did notice a big QR code – hence the picture.

Who’s ever going to tag this QR code anyway?

First of all: do most consumers already know about QR codes? Shall they realize it? Or do you only want to address the “geeks” to renovate their house in 2011? I can tell you one thing: geeks are often not that into “DIY stuff”. Maybe you’re addressing the wrong target group with your renovation loan promotions?

Second, assume consumers are completely into QR codes already, how on earth can you tag this code while driving by at 90 km / hour? It’s already hard to take a picture of it. Let alone tag it with your mobile phone.

bnp paribas fortis qr code in advert for mobile banking

bnp paribas fortis qr code in advert for mobile banking

To end I would dare to say that the QR code is there just because they can put it there. Or is it all about parroting the competitor?

Why a QR code? Because BNP Paribas Fortis had one?

I believe AXA bank used QR because their competitor BNP Paribas Fortis did earlier that year. However, how BNP Paribas Fortis deployed it was completely different. BNP used it to launch their mobile banking application and services. And because I believed it was quite impressive, I even reported on their break-through mobile banking app on this blog but I didn’t relate to the way it was promoted. Today I will though.

Promoting online banking with a QR code

Why would it make sense to put a QR code on an advertisement for mobile banking and not on an advertisement for renovation loans?

  • Because a QR code is scanned with a mobile phone.
    People scan the code and they are automatically taken to the mobile banking app. That’s just great, that’s convenience. If you force people to scan a code that has in fact nothing to do with mobile, why would you do the effort? Why would you spend the money?
  • Next to that, BNP’s QR codes were easily scannable.
    You could easily scan them because they were in newspapers, magazines and on in-bank posters. Not on large format. Not next to a speedway.
  • Finally, the target group.
    Yes, early adaptors of mobile banking will probably know a thing or two about QR codes. And no, people who renovate their houses are not particularly interested in geeky stuff.

What CMOs and agencies need to learn from this

  • Don’t just use technology because you can. Make sure it matches your target group.
  • Don’t just do something because your competitor did. The trick is to stand out. Will never happen if you parrot!

Say hello to the Hybrid Marketer.

I think this relates to an interesting debate that was held at SXSW, Austin, Texas, USA. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the event and this debate. So if anyone can send me a summary, I’d be very thankful. Anyways, here’s how they framed the whole issue:

How much do marketers (& their agencies) need to know about technology? Advertisers and brand marketers are entering a brave new world — one where code is on par with content. “Consumers” are now “users.” So should “marketers” be “developers”? Enter the hybrid marketer. More and more agencies are finding they need to educate and cultivate a new breed of people who understand tech from a marketing and brand perspective, and who have a consumer mindset. At the same time, agencies are adopting practices–agile development, continuous deployment–learned from the tech world. But should they really try this stuff at home? Should “marketers” be worrying about, say, the video capability of the latest iPhone, or pushing the envelope with HTML5? Or should they just stick to their core competencies and work with established software companies / dev shops to realize their ideas? How else is technology affecting the agency model and the creative process?

Business and targeting ethics? The co-operative case.

Promoting funeralcare services at a mediated sport event

Ever heard of the sport “Bowls”? We hadn’t before.

Basically speaking it’s a form of “pétanque” often played in the commonwealth nations. The goal of the game is to roll slightly asymmetric balls (bowls) so that they end up close to a smaller bowl, as demonstrated in the below video. But there’s something more to that video … something that has to deal with business ethics and marketing target groups…

The co-operative funeralcare as main sponsor

In the above video one could see multiple adverts at various locations of an enterprise called “The co-operative”. All ads promote their funeralcare services. The advertisements are everywhere: on the player’s shirts, on the left and right of the pitch, behind the players. The event visitors see it all the time – as well as people watching the game on their television.

Business ethics and customer targeting?

Is there a group that offers funeralcare services in a “retail way”? It might, The co-operative group strives to be a nation-wide funeralcare service provider with local branches all over the country.

Are visitors / viewers of the bowls sport a target group for funeralcare services? Yes, the place is full of elderly people. As the sport could be labeled rather boring, chances are big the television audience is equally old.

The importance of strong copy in advertising. On the latest Stihl-campaign.

I like the latest adverts (see images below) of the saw manufacturer Stihl because they are based on strong copy. The importance of strong copy cannot be underestimated.

Importance of strong copy for adverts: "I came, I sawed and I won" (J.Caesar)

Importance of strong copy for adverts: I came, I sawed and I won (J.Caesar)

Importance of strong copy for adverts: "No half work" (with characters sawn in half))

Importance of strong copy for adverts: No half work (with characters sawn in half))

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Flanders & its strong extreme right political party. On the frequency aspects of media buying.

Belgium: the story

We live in a country that isn’t governed for a period of about 4 months now. Why is that so difficult? Just watch the below instructional video from Marcel Sel…

Flanders: strong right-wing

In the northern part of the country (Flanders, where they speak Dutch) inhabitants tend to vote for conservatives. But what’s even more striking, is the huge support for an extreme right political party – known as Vlaams Belang (=”Flemish importance”).

Why does this political organization receives so much support from that many inhabitants? Is it that all Dutch-speaking Belgians are a bit “fascist”? It cannot be, I cannot believe.

Next to loads of other aspects, we want to point out that this political party sets itself apart from the other parties not only by leaving the democratic spectrum behind but also by deploying a different media buying strategy. With their media strategy, they tend to be visible in the streets the entire year – not only in the run-up to elections such as the other political parties. Added to that, the party empowers that visibility in the streets by offering gadgets via a webshop (e.g.: branded sweaters, caps, cycling outfits, mouse pads, flags, etc.).

New campaign: the Republic of Flanders.

Belgium has struggled to form a government for about 4 months now – one political crisis follows the other. Main reason is the inability to make an agreement between the Dutch-speaking community and the French-speaking community.

Ended up at this point, Vlaams Belang decided to launch a campaign to demonstrate that the country is doomed (this has been their main argument for years). The solution, according to them, is to form the Republic of Flanders.

To convince people that the republic of Flanders is the means to the end of wealth, Vlaams Belang launched a campaign that consists of 500 20 sq.m. outdoor ads, window posters and a brochure of which more than 1 million copies are printed (to compare: the biggest newspaper in Flanders is printed on about 100 000 copies).

You might disagree on Vlaams Belang’s opinions, but you’ve got to give them at least one thing: it is the only political party that tries to establish a continuous conversation with the inhabitants of Flanders. By this I mean, they are active even without upcoming elections.

Is it strange then that they get a lot of votes at elections? We believe it’s not that strange.

Given the fact that most of the people don’t really care about ideology, they might vote for “a brand” that they are most familiar with. The brand they’re most familiar with might just be the brand that chooses to have a continuous advertising frequency strategy.

Extreme right political party in Belgium goes for continuity media buying approach in street advertising. Great idea in Belgium, a country where you have to vote every other day.

Extreme right political party in Belgium goes for continuity media buying approach in street advertising. Great idea in Belgium, a country where you have to vote every other day. Picture taken from my car while driving with my mobile device - my apologies for the bad photograph. However, all stories on this blog appear just because I ran up to something that triggered me into a reflection exercise... For this reason we believe it is allowed to put this fuzzy picture on the web ;-)

Frequency-based theory high percentage extreme right voters derived from “advertising science”

Political advertising and commercial advertising serve pretty much the same goal. To convince people to believe information provided via a communication channel.

Within the communication science, there seems to be a general consensus on how to reflect about the impact of frequency of media exposures. Here’s sort of how it works:

The media objectives of a media plan often call for some combination of reach and frequency. Media planners want the highest reach possible because that means more people will be exposed to the campaign, which should lead to more brand awareness, customer loyalty, sales, and so on. Media planners also seek high frequency if they feel that consumers will only take action (that is, buy the product) after multiple exposures to the campaign.

Media planners can choose among three methods of scheduling: continuity, flight, and pulse. Continuity scheduling spreads media spending evenly across months. The flight scheduling approach alternates advertising across months, with heavy advertising in certain months and no advertising at all in other months. Pulse scheduling combines the first two scheduling methods, so that the brand maintains a low-level of advertising across all months but spends more in selected months.

Reading the above theory on scheduling methods, we have to say we’re not quite sure which one the political party is using. However, others are using none – except when running into campaigns. In this manner the political brand appeals to people in the streets because they meet it all the time…

Think about it? Should other parties counter-feight this dominance by also buying media space more frequently?

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Google Adsense: why should you consider it?

Google Inc.

If I ask people to “just name a brand”, then I often get the answer “Google”. Yes, Google is a powerful brand these days. Nevertheless, people often know nothing more about Google then it being a search engine. Of course, Google is much more than a search engine. Just think about the apps “Google Earth”, “Google Maps”, “Google Video” “Google Docs”, “Google Calendar” and last but not least “Gmail”.

It’s clear that Google isn’t just a search engine. But how do they generate revenue then? Google introduced an innovative business model – AdWords – and the pay-per-click (SEA) concept. The new business model proved to work because today AdWords is still the main source of revenues of Google Inc.

Google and its highly targeted advertising options

The powerful element in the Google business model is the fact that advertisers are ensured their ad appears only when people are interested. A search engine ad only appears for relevant keywords (in the case of the pay-per-click model). People only enter keywords when they are explicitly interested in a subject. An Adsense ad only appears in between relevant content. This means the ad is advertising the same good or service as the page it is on. Bottom line: advertising via a Google platform is cost-effective since it only reaches people who are interested. Compared to “mass advertising media” such as television, this way is much more effective.

Example: Google Adsense on this blog

Have a look at the below screenshot of this website. It’s an Adsense ad that was placed next to an article on “brand management”. For a company specializing in brand management, appearing next to an article like that is very useful since the reader of the article is already interested in the advertiser’s core business.

Google Adsense for "brandtrust" on this blog

Google Adsense for "brandtrust" on this blog

Benefits Google Adsense

  • The most robust targeting of any ad network
  • AdSense’s innovative targeting options allow advertisers to more precisely reach their desired audiences on a third-party website — resulting in more revenue for the third-party website owner as well as more sales for the advertiser.

  • Contextual targeting
  • AdSense ads are related to the content of the webpage. This is an advantage: your ad pops up there were it doesn’t interrupt. It fits in between the content on the website.

  • Placement targeting
  • An advertiser can target a site based on demographics, vertical, geographic location, or URL.

  • Interest–based advertising
  • An advertiser can show ads based on users’ interests and previous interactions with that advertiser.

  • New Media?
  • AdSense isn’t just for websites. Earn extra revenue by displaying ads on your:

  • Site search results
  • Mobile webpages
  • Feeds
  • Parked domains
  • Mobile applications
  • Videos
  • Online game
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    Future of print: Large Format Sexy Ads!

    Fact: printed matter is going down

    Future of print is large format

    Future of print is large format

    Have a look at the amount of brochures, catalogues and newspapers that are printed today – compared to 10 years ago. Indeed, commercial printed matter decreases year by year. Of course, packaging printing will continue to exist. You can’t deliver without properly packing the good. But you can sell without a printed brochure or catalogue (just put it online as a PDF and it’ll do the trick).

    Fact: large format prints add value

    In the above I stated that packaging will continue to exist. This will also count for large format print. Large format prints provide additional value compared to commercial prints. Large format prints grab the attention of people. A brochure isn’t read thoroughly anymore – after all, they find the content on the world-wide web.

    Suggestion: sexy large format prints

    Sexyness has always been a trick to grab people’s attention. Nevertheless, sexyness should be used appropriately. It doesn’t make sense for all products. This page depicts a good example of sexyness within a large format print concept. It depicts a good-looking women next to a big shower head. The copy (Feel Dirty?) enforces the “sexual” aspect as well as it provides appropriate information about the company’s products: they provide solutions to make your body clean…

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