Monthly Archives: September 2009

Arsenalisation of ‘The Emirates Stadium’

Over the last few weeks, there has been much talk of the ‘Arsenalisation’ of ‘The Emirates Stadium’ – home of my beloved Arsenal FC. I didn’t expect much to be honest. I thought this would mean a few large prints inside the stadium and a lot of talk. After all, making the stadium look great doesn’t make money for the club and Arsenal as a business are notoriously frugal – just look at the net transfer spend over the last 10 years.

So, imagine my suprise when I attended the game against Wigan last week and saw what had been done. It is absolutely fantastic and makes me even more proud to be a fan. Arsenal are a club with a rich history, and this work demonstrates that nicely. 

Arsenalisation of the Emirates

Arsenalisation of the Emirates


Arsenalisation of The Emirates

Arsenalisation of The Emirates

Arsene Wenger - Invincible quote

Arsene Wenger - Invincible quote

Arsenalisation of the Emirates

Arsenalisation of the Emirates

I attended my first game at Highbury in 1992 as a twelve year old and have barely missed a match since then. I loved Highbury so much and thought that ‘The Emirates’ would never feel like home. When I walked into Highbury, you could feel the history. The Emirates on the other hand felt like a great big soul-less bowl. It’s taken time but finally it is beginning to feel more like a proper home and this work adds to the attachment that we supporters feel for the club.

On the last day at Highbury, there were a series of speeches. One of them was particularly poignant by Tom Watt. He said that of course the football memories were important, but what is more important is the sharing of moments. The highs and the lows shared with the people closest to you. The dad who takes his son…who takes his son in turn… ‘

The Emirates’ feels more and more feels like home and I can’t wait for the memories that haven’t even happened yet…

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Hierarchy of Success

I’m thinking of doing an executive MBA. It means I can still carry on working but would work every other weekend to gain what increasingly appears to be an important qualification in the world of business. The communications industry is after all the fusion of commerciality and creativity – and anything that can help that seems worthwhile.

 Part of the application process to all the leading business schools is a course called the GMAT. It’s a test of logic – split into verbal and quantative sections. Put simply, to get into the best schools – you need to be in the top 5-10% of all the people taking it. It’s a real challenge – and really separates the men from the boys. Now, the most intelligent people get the best scores it would seem. People who have high flying careers and have always achieved scholastic excellence get the best scores. That would make sense after all.

 The fact is though, this test is not a test of intelligence – it’s a test of dedication. It’s this point that neatly ties into a recent blog post by Seth Godin. In it, he outlines what he perceives to be the hierarchy of success:

  1. Attitude
  2. Approach
  3. Goals
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Execution

Attitude and approach are what leads to the greatest levels of success. Attitude relates to why we lead our lives and approach looks at the things that we do to make our reasons for living happening. Neither of these are easy to master – if they were then everyone would do them! It’s this reason why the GMAT is such a good test for business schools as it focuses specifically on these areas rather than pure intelligence, which is worthless unless applied practically.

Some more questions that Godin then mentions are:

  • How do you deal with failure?
  • When will you quit?
  • How do you treat competitors?
  • What personality are you looking for in the people you hire?
  • What’s it like to work for you? Why? Is that a deliberate choice?
  • What sort of decisions do you make when no one is looking?

It’s really interesting stuff, and I have found recently that sometimes you don’t know what you want until you take some time to evaluate. In the hecticness of modern life – you presume you are what you are. In reality, you are who you want to be…

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Product Placement

So, the big news for the advertising industry this week is the expected decision that will allow commercial broadcasters to show sponsored products for the first time. If, as expected, the decision is passed, there will be another avenue for brands to promote their wares. The days of fictional products will disappear and pints of ‘Newton & Ridley’ in the Rovers Return will be replaced by Stella, Heineken or A.N.Other highest bidder.

...Soon to be Wetherspoons?

...Soon to be Wetherspoons?

In some ways, our soap operas will return to their routes. The name ‘soap opera’ stemming from the original serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate – Palmolive and Lever Brothers as sponsors and producers targeting weekly daytime slots when mostly housewives would be available to listen.

Not that that product placement in itself is a new phenomenon. We seem to know a lot about the spending habits of our favourite fictional screen stars. James Bond’s preferred watch is an Omega (the Rolex brand manager was obviously gazumped), while ¬ Spider-Man likes a drop of Dr Pepper. It’s difficult to forget the cringe worthy scene in I, Robot in which a character compliments Will Smith’s character’s shoes to which he replies “Converse All-Stars, vintage 2004.(the year of the film’s release).

Product Placement Overkill

Product Placement Overkill

I, Robot was ranked “the worst film for product placement” on a British site due to overt placements for Ovaltine, Audi, FedEx, Dos Equis, and JVC among others, all of them introduced within the first ten minutes of the film. A classic example of overkill if any was needed.

So, advertisers will need to tread carefully. Over the forthcoming months, no doubt there will be checklists developed as how to create a successful product placement. We know that relevancy will be the key. Execution will also be critical. Extreme close ups of freshly poured lager or glinting accessories are going to be a massive turn off. Logistically, it will also be incredibly interesting to see how these product placements will be managed. Will brand managers be on set to ensure that their product is shown in the perfect light? Will scripts be passed through the marketing departments of FMCG brands to check that the correct product cues are being communicated? The process promises to be a complex one.

The essence of advertising is often confused as an art form. Primarily by creative departments. The simple fact though, as communicated most succinctly by David Ogilvy is that advertising ‘has an obligation to sell’. The ultimate aim is to move product – not produce aesthetically outstanding work. Of course, the two frequently go hand in hand but they are not mutually exclusive. It is going to be the marrying of the commerciality of advertising with the simple aim of televisions shows – to entertain, that is going to create friction.

And commerciality is the sole reason behind this about turn. ITV has championed the lifting of the ban which it said would be “warmly welcomed by the commercial broadcasting industry and advertisers alike”. It has been suggested that it will earn an incremental £100m a year for broadcasters. I actually struggle to see how such a figure can be arrived at. Product placement does not mean marketing budgets will increase. The marketing pot is not dependant on mediums available. Instead, all it means is that other areas of the marketing budget will be cut and re-allocated. If I had to place a bet on where the budget for product placement might come from, I would say it would come from elsewhere in the TV budget. Product Placement is some instances could be a very cost effective way to get awareness on TV screens without spending money on ads with high production values.

My prediction is that the real level of earnings will be considerably lower. It is too early to tell now the full effects. Across the marketing world, clients will be asking agencies to look at the opportunities. Some will do it well and some less well but one thing is for certain – product placement will not be the saviour of the ailing television advertising industry.

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Taking the risk…Reaping the reward

As a marketeer, you get used to hearing certain buzz words around the place. They tend to seep slowly into your consciousness, become entrenched in your everyday vocabulary for some varying amount of time before sloping off again into obscurity. Some stick around for what seems like forever. Some disappear along with the outward forces that created such a need for the term in the first place.

‘Credit crunch’ is one such word. You couldn’t move for ‘credit-crunch’ some months ago, but somewhere along the way it paved the way for ‘recession’…an altogether darker more unforgiving descriptor. ‘Credit crunch’ sounded dangerous and powerful. Recession just sounds grey and depressing. And when such words enter the public psyche, we marketers have to use them more and more ourselves because after all, the consumers affected by sociological goings-on are those people we still have to persuade to buy our products., whatever their economic situation.

What start of as ‘asides’ in presentations quickly become ‘topics for discussion’ which in turn become presentations in their own rights. And as we grapple with these terms and how to manage these sociological changes, we create terms that tend to go hand in hand with them. Imagine an organogram with the terms that we might associate with recession. You might see ‘hard working’, or ‘cheap’, or ‘quick fix’ and ‘guaranteed results’. It is easy to see why it happens. It happens because money is tight and people start to watch their backs fearing for their jobs and ultimately their source of income. They don’t want to take any risks and give their employer a reason to get rid of them. People become more conscious of doing nothing wrong than they are of doing anything right.

And this has to be the wrong approach for 2 reasons.

Reason 1: Look at the facts…

I just took a look at the unemployment statistics and found this quote from the national statistics site:

“The employment rate and the number of people in employment have fallen. The number of vacancies has fallen. The number of unemployed people, the unemployment rate and the claimant count have all increased. The number of inactive people of working age and the inactivity rate have increased. Growth in average earnings, excluding bonuses, has fallen”

Now, if that isn’t a bleak picture then I don’t know what is. It’s not a great suprise – the contraction of the economy has meant that there simply isn’t the growth at this moment in time to support the number of jobs created pre-recession. Now, the crux of this argument is the fact is that most of those people were not doing anything wrong. The majority of them were working hard and  trying to stay in employment – trying to not do anything wrong. One thing is for sure though, not many of those people were trying to be different – to be bold or adventurous. It is understandable,  human beings are programmed to try and protect and the fear the loss  is a stronger emotion than the desire to strive for something greater.

But when you look at the facts,  it doesn’t actually make any sense to ‘be safe’. The reason for this is that ‘being safe’ ensures you stay in the same lottery bowl as everyone else. By ‘doing different’, you at least give yourself more of a chance to succeed.

Reason 2: The need for change

The second reason is that when things are bad, people are looking harder than ever for something different. Something to drag them from the boring minutiae of their everyday life into a place where for they can forget about their worries. If we can recognise this as marketers and try and give consumers something different from what is already in existence but at a lower price point, then we stand a chance of engaging them. We need to adjust our psyche to take risks in adverse environments. If we can do this,  then we are more likely than not to succeed.

Why? Well ,let me quote another blog (in French) ‘envie d’entreprendre’ which explains why an innovator would have a higher likeliness of success in periods of crisis:

Since financing is more difficult to obtain, those who know how to operate in a low-cost, frugal environment have an edge. Since many people wait and see, even are “frozen”, using the crisis as an excuse not to act or cannot act because of lack of financing, there is less competition. Since there is less competition, the market is easier [and more talents are available].

I like these arguments: less competition + better efficiency = increased likelihood of success. It seems that periods of recession can create opportunites to become MORE entrepreneurial, innovative and push boundaries. So maybe, it’s about time we stopped talking about always delivering ‘value’ and ‘hard working approaches’ and start thinking about how we bring the greatest possible changes to those people who need them most.

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