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thinking aloud

By susanperolls1, Jun 29 2016 12:36PM

By Susan Perolls, Cannes Correspondent for The Marketing Blog (from a series of events and interviews across Day Two of the Cannes Innovation Festival)

At an event that’s focused on innovation it’s unsurprising how much time and floor space at Cannes has been devoted to technology, with Samsung’s VR booth, for one, attracting big queues. What has been really satisfying, though, has been recognition at the conference of the value of people when it comes to invention and creativity. Yes, we know marketing is about people in terms of consumer-centricity, but the importance of the talent behind great campaigns was also top of mind of many speakers at Cannes.

Raja Rajamannar, CMO at Mastercard, sees attracting and retaining the right staff as his single biggest challenge today. The brand is moving towards ever more complex forms of marketing, such as real time marketing that recognises trends before they happen and creates marketing opportunities around them within 12 hours. The multifaceted nature of its campaigns requires a real mix of classic marketing skills around consumer behaviour and digital skills focused on technology. Rajamannar has found true marketing-tech hybrids to be in short supply.

Anna Mukherjee, Global CMO at SC Johnson also appreciates the need for a balance in skills amongst staff, but is concerned that art should be valued as much as science. As she said, ‘Marketing cannot be formulaic. Consumers want to be dazzled and to do this you need to bring on board great creative talent and to nurture it.’

So what are today’s CMOs and agency heads doing to cultivate great staff that push the boundaries and create cut-through campaigns? Rob Sherlock, CEO and Worldwide ECD at consumer activation agency ADK Global believes that it is important to give staff the freedom to fail – otherwise you will only encourage safe ideas; and that’s never going to be good enough to stand out in such a competitive marketplace.

He also encourages staff to say no if they think that’s the right response. As he explained, ‘when people say no it creates a struggle but it’s also an enabler. It makes you assess and rethink what you’re doing which is usually a good thing.’

A number of speakers speakers cited Google as the model to emulate when it comes to attracting and retaining the new kids on the marketing block – millennials. For example, 70% of MasterCard’s new hires are aged 34 and under, hence the office has been ‘Googlefied’ to look cool and build a creative environment. Plus staff compensation isn’t seen just as paying good money, but also offering many softer benefits. These include flexible hours, time off to volunteer for charities and the chance to take an active role in personal development, like working on cross-functional projects or stints in the company’s other offices around the world; all elements that appeal to this group.

Robbie Douek, Managing Director, EMEA at content company Maker Studios Inc suggested that, ‘Having a serious and professional style may be important for many brands, but a corporate environment won’t work for any organisation wanting to attract young talent’.

That said, Sherlock suggested that not all companies can change overnight to be hip. Authenticity was perhaps one of the most overused words at Cannes, but it’s true that brands cannot reinvent themselves instantly and still be an honest reflection of who they are. He explained, ‘We don’t all need to have a play lounge. What’s important is to make changes in bite sized increments. Sometimes it can be small changes that make a difference to how staff feel about your business.’

Jonathan Coulter of media & marketing recruitment consultancy Talentarc which sponsored a session with the IAA on ‘Leading Creative Talent' (video courtesy of www.vision-network.eu) has been observing changes in industry talent for years. He believes that what the industry is seeing now is an exciting period of transition with the marketing ‘old guard’ and millennial influx coming together, with both proving to be transformative forces.

In his view, ‘Millennials are playing an increasingly important role in the marketplace, but there is room for both groups. What is interesting is that there is a new spirit of openness at all levels that is creating something positive and fresh in the way people work. While senior marketers are mentoring the fresh talent to grow their foundations in marketing, these same people are also being mentored by graduates in new trends and technology.’

But how do people keep pushing the boundaries of creativity, however long they have been in the business? Neil Stevenson, former Editor at The Face and now Managing Director at ideas and innovation firm Ideo, has been experimenting for years to find the answer – from putting himself in unnerving situations using virtual reality to meditation and taking the stage as a stand up comedian –he’s even tried magic mushrooms in pursuit of creative enlightenment! He’s still looking but has found several important factors about creativity on his journey so far:

1. You can’t do it for money – in fact research shows that money negatively impacts on creativity.

2. Real creativity is unconscious – you can’t control it or explain it so you have to find ways to get ‘outside of your head’

3. Methods and processes support creativity but do not build it

4. If you do creativity right it should make you feel uncomfortable

And that’s what the Cannes Lions Innovation Festival is all about - despite its beautiful, calm setting, its aim is to inspire people to push themselves beyond their comfort zone and try something different. If everyone who attended can be motivated to have a go at doing one new thing, the future for innovation and creativity in marketing will be bright.

To see the original article on The Marketing Blog press here.

By susanperolls1, Jun 29 2016 12:25PM

By Susan Perolls, Cannes Correspondent for The Marketing Blog (from a series of events and interviews across Day One of Cannes Innovation Festival)

As Cannes Lions welcomes its mini Innovation Festival for the second year, it’s interesting to hear speakers telling us that, while the elements that make up innovation (data x tech x ideas) are driving the changes and growth in the industry, there is also a ‘back to basics’ mentality in the minds of senior practitioners. They want to do great things and do them better – but in order to do so there is a desire to bring rigour to a lot of advertising processes that has got lost along the way.

At this morning’s #Wakeupcannes event with The Economist, Mark Pritchard, Global Brand Building Officer at P&G, took a huge step back in time. As he explained, ‘I love the word ‘advert’ as it derives from the Latin word meaning ‘turn towards’. If your ad doesn’t make your audience turn towards your product then it’s not doing it’s job.’

And yet, while he cited many great ad campaigns that make ‘his spine tingle’, he also despairs at the ‘crap’ in the industry too. He explained that, while the technology has enabled brands to express themselves across a fantastic range of media, it is these bad ad and marketing campaigns that have brought the bad guests to the party, such as ad blocking and ad skipping.

Getting around these barriers has been at the centre of good advertising since time immemorial: great creative ideas, delivered to give the right person, the right value/message at the right time. However, the way in which great content and creative is actually delivered is seeing big changes that are shifting the way the industry works.

As Brad Jakeman, President Global Beverage Group at Pepsico explained, ‘The task of creating great, entertaining and engaging entertainment is a huge task. Whereas the company used to take six months to create a piece of content at a cost of $2m, today Pepsi needs to create 5,000 pieces of content a year. And today it needs to take six hours or six days and cost $20,000.’

With such a major task in hand, Pepsico have taken the huge step of building their own content department with, according to Jakeman, some of the best creative minds in the world. Indeed, while the content department isn’t making money yet, they will be soon as they are selling content to media platforms and shifting the whole relationship between brands and publishers.

What’s interesting, though, is that while content is a big topic across the conference and is seen as one of the most exciting areas for creative ideas and delivery, Pritchard reminded his audience, ‘It is essentially the oldest form of advertising there is. The first ads were the ‘soap operas’ sponsored by detergent firms – becoming synonymous with creating great entertainment and providing added value, but without pushing the product down the consumer’s throat. We may in a new era of content creation, but the principles remain the same.’

What has also stayed the same, but is seen as an area that requires real change is campaign measurement. Many major brands are still measuring ROI using methods that have essentially not changed in 40 years and are really not fit for purpose. Lori Lee, Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing at AT&T said, ‘I can’t believe that the whole of the media landscape has changed but measurements haven’t.’

It’s a thorny issue. Bringing together measurement from across many media channels for different types of campaigns and seeing where results fit within the consumer decision making tree is extremely complex and, at the moment, according to one speaker, it is like holding everything together with duct tape.

Jess Beldner Maurer, Business Development Director at ad server firm Flashtalking explained another one of the big problems. ‘The minute Google purchased Invite Media and became the biggest media company in the world, it should have lost its role in measurement. Advertisers need to demand unbiased measurement and this can only come from objective third parties’.

Given all the issues, several people we spoke to suggested that reach may currently be the best measure for campaigns. After all, you need to know that your campaign made your brand grow. As Basem Nayfeh, CTO of advertising automation specialists AudienceScience explained, ‘Brands talk about reach being a good proxy for measuring sales but what they define as reach in today’s complex marketplace is not a quality metric. There are so many issues that impact on reach – for instance, the TV may be on but is anyone actually watching it?’

Change has happened so fast in advertising, but the thinking and processes going forward need to be built on strong foundations. But then, hasn’t that always been the case.

As they say in Cannes, ‘la plus plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose’.

Click here to see the original article published on The Marketing Blog.

By susanperolls1, Jun 29 2016 12:15PM

It’s three weeks today until the Innovation Festival opens at Cannes, and so it feels that the countdown can finally begin. And with that, comes the excitement of anticipating what will be the biggest news and innovations that will be uncovered.

Given that the main Cannes Lions Advertising Festival is often called the ‘Grand Dame’ of industry events, it’s probably fair to say that the Innovation Festival, being in its second year, is seen by many as the upstart of La Croisette. It doesn’t yet have the kudos of its mother, not so far attracting the headline pullers like Gwyneth Paltrow, David Droga and Will Smith who are speaking at the main Festival.

And yet, Innovation – billed as data x tech x ideas - certainly made a lot of the headlines last year. Not least with a flurry of commentators somewhat hysterically predicting the role of ad tech in the downfall of creativity, disparagingly calling the sponsored yachts AdTech Row and bemoaning the takeover of the beach by the likes of Google and Twitter (but then being seen enjoying the parties of the same!).

That was a shame, but what was great was the recognition in both conference talks and also at the Innovation Awards about how technology, data and creativity doesn’t just allow companies to do things better, but to do good. Campaigns and companies under the spotlight included Kano with its computer coding kit for kids, NASA embracing gamers and empowering them to spot dangerous asteroids before they threaten the Earth (Apophis 20220) and Innovation Grand Prix winners What3Words whose global addressing system allows people disadvantaged as a result of not having an address to now apply for jobs, benefits and receive humanitarian aid.

So what are going to be the biggest items of interest at Cannes Innovation 2016? It will be fascinating to navigate the technology under the spotlight to evaluate what innovations are truly groundbreaking and empowering to marketers – versus what is tech for tech’s sake. The Internet of Things will be high on the agenda as its transformative power feels so close, and yet its potential power still feels distant (Renault’s talk on how its cars are being turned into all-singing-all-dancing consumer engagement tools sounds a must) remains the element of marketing that feels as though it should be the most transformational in years to come – and yet it is still feels will be And as always, it will be fun to spot the best job titles on show, with ‘Cyborg Anthropologist’ being an early entry at the top of the list having scanned the agenda.

However, one of the biggest areas of excitement and debate looks to be the so called ‘fourth dimension’ – identifying and measuring ways to tap into and react to our emotional state. Pixar, Spotify and Uncanny Valley are all talking about different ways of delving into our subconscious to unlock our emotions – be it with filming that is guaranteed to tug at our heartstrings, or with playlists delivered to us that perfectly fit our moods in real time.

In a talk being given by Facebook called ‘3 Seconds to Win’, they reveal research that shows humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. It’s an unsettling fact – but one that suggests that perhaps this year’s Cannes Innovation will create a rapprochement between ad tech and creativity. When you only have three seconds to capture consumer imagination you have to bring together insight and great ideas and then deliver them personally to where the consumer wants to see them. Technology is fundamental in facilitating this and is providing an essential element in the innovation that helps stimulate creativity. As it rightly says on the Cannes Innovation website, it’s our minds, not technology, that are the barriers.

To see the original article published on The Marketing Blog please click here.

By susanperolls1, Apr 5 2016 09:50AM

In the first in an occasional series, Loudmouth PR's social media trend spotter, Fraser McIntosh, provides insight into 'the next big things' that you need to know about. You saw it here first.................

Fancy trying your hand at Korea’s newest gastronomical phenomenon? You could make thousands for eating dinner in front of your computer.

When looking for the next viral trend it’s suffice to say that looking towards South Korea is a safe bet. The country that spawned the record shattering Gangnam style and introduced the world to their truly awe-inspiring television commercials has quickly become known for its viral oddities. This trend continues with their latest foray into bizarreness – Mukbang.

Mukbang, meaning ‘eating-broadcast’ is the viral trend of someone consuming large quantities of food in front of a webcam involving interaction with viewers. These “BJs” (Broadcast Jockeys) will often eat for over three hours at a time while chatting, giving advice and performing challenges set by the spectators in return for money donations sent by “star balloons”.

One balloon translates to 100 Korean won (around 10 cents in US dollars) and can generate over $9000 a month for the most popular internet foodies. Over 3,000 BJs broadcast their meals on the Korean streaming website Afreeca.tv with the most popular of them receiving almost celebrity status (Popular Mukbanger BJ Hanna has revealed that she has had to move houses multiple times to avoid her obsessive fans).

So why has this gastronomic voyeurism become such as phenomenon? Here are just some of the many reasons:

- Viewers on diets or who suffer from eating disorders can eat vicariously through these professional eaters. BJ ‘The Diva” says “One of the best comments I ever received from a viewer who said that she had gotten over he anorexia by watching me eat”.

- It coincides with another strange viral trend called ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) which involves videos of whispering and the tapping and rubbing of objects in order stimulate the sensation often referred to as a “brain tingle”(the most popular ASMR artist, Gentlewhispering currently has 466,798 Youtube subscribers). These ‘BJers’ have tapped into this market by investing in expensive microphones that pick up all the noise produced from the chewing and slurping of food in order to give an apparent pleasure to the viewers.

- They also provide advice to their audience, echoing the role of some more traditional Youtube vloggers, with Lee Chang-Hyun describing the benefit of his job as “counselling about problems they might have so we have a real relationship”.

- Often stated as the biggest reason for this sensation’s popularity is the significant rise of one-person households in South Korea creating a need to combat loneliness, seemingly tackled by these online dinner-dates.

With the exponential success of Youtube videogamers (Pewdiepie, the most popular youtuber of all time, who currently has more than the population of Poland subscribed to him) it isn’t hard to see why mukbang could become just as popular as we continue to test the limits of what internet media is capable of producing.

Watch both American and Japanese Youtube stars react to Muckbang here:


Fraser Mcintosh, April 2016

By susanperolls1, Apr 5 2016 09:25AM

The nature of social media tools is continually evolving and often at an incredible pace, no sooner have you mastered one, and another is on the horizon.

Pinterest, an online virtual pinboard that encourages its members to organise, share and ‘pin’ the things they find interesting or those that inspire them, onto virtual boards, is the latest buzz word in the industry. According to ComScore, the global leader in measuring the digital world, growth rate for visitors to Pinterest has been in the double, triple and quadruple digits. The UK, one of the fastest growing markets for Pinterest, grew by nearly 80% with 245,000 unique visitors in January 2012. But should businesses and brands be using it as part of their communications strategy?

The answer is yes, but with a strong caveat. Pinterest is not about self promotion it’s about engaging and encouraging mutual interest and demonstrating how your brand fits into the consumer’s life.

Pinterest differs from other social platforms because it is all about aspirations; it reflects the desires and interests of the user and the lifestyle they want to live. It also differs from Facebook and Twitter because it isn’t principally a broadcast channel, it’s predominantly about creating. Pinterest account holders use their boards to plan, discover, inspire and share items they like. It’s more about highlighting great ideas than it is about self promotion.

As savvy consumers become more adapt at ‘editing’ out what they consider irrelevant or intrusive marketing, Pinterest offers brands, businesses and agencies an opportunity to discover what inspires their target audiences. If used correctly, Pinterest is a great opportunity to engage and build relationships by providing complementary interests and information the target audience wants to engage with and share.

Pinterest designer and co-founder Evan Sharp and Mashable say it best in a recent article: “since you’re not supposed to blast pictures of your products on Pinterest, try to think outside the box and pin images that capture a lifestyle and /or the essence of your brand. Pinterest calls for a more holistic approach to marketing and it can be more effective and engaging than traditional advertising because the consumers can really see how your brand fits into their lives.”

It’s a great place to give your business personality, the right ‘pins’ will showcase how your business, services or brands can enhance and compliment the aspirations and lifestyle choices of your customer. But the number one rule remains: don’t be pushy or use it purely as a self promotion channel.