Global Marketer Conference – Highlights – Sydney 26th March 2014

AANA - GMCLast week I attended the Global Marketer Conference in Sydney hosted by the Australian Advertising Network of Australia (AANA). The event was attended by marketers from all over the world. A cocktail party with views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge kicked off the event in style. But, the global line up of speakers was what everyone came for, this included Marc Mathieu from Unilever, Michael Birkin of Acer computers, James Thompson of Diageo Reserve, Michelle Froah of Kimberly-Clark, John Kearon of Brainjuicer, Ed Sanders of Google, Colin Currie of Adidas and British advertising legend Sir John Hegarty of Bartle Bogel Hegarty (BBH).

Like at all events, there is always so much going on and lots to take in. Looking back at my notebook the scribbles resemble something you would find at a kindergarten. Luckily the insights were memorable making it is easy to document.

The underlining theme of the event was to remember we’re marketing to ‘humans’ not consumers.

This point was repeatedly mentioned by the speakers one-way or another. Making human beings the ‘hero’ (central focus) of products is a big focus. And personalisation should not be just for the rich and famous. James Thompson from Diageo Reserve mentioned that users are looking for meaning from mass produced products. Online content is one way brands are making this personal connection with clients.

Having a purpose other than monetary was another big talking point at the conference. Purpose motivates human behaviour. Marc Mathieu from Unilever said ‘A brand without a purpose is just a billboard’. Unilever’s Dove soap helps women feel more self-confident and empowered in much the same way Lynx’s deodorant does for men. In Lynx’s latest TV commercial, the brand is encouraging peace not war.

Behavioural science was another area discussed. John Kearon from market research company BrainJuicer challenged our thinking that humans don’t actually put a lot of thought in to our decision making. In reality, we think less then we think. In time sensitive situations we are more inclined to revert to our instincts (unconscious behaviour) and use our left-side of the brain.

John challenged the marketers in the room to look at things differently. Consumers thought process is made up of 3 steps:

  1. Framing – no decision made out of context. Luxury car makers sell more cars at boat shows because cars seem cheap compared with boats.
  2. Copying – we copy everything/ everyone (herd mentality). E-commerce websites do this very well with ‘recommended buys’.
  3. Feeling – if people feel nothing, they will do nothing. The importance of brands having a purpose. It’s important to make people feel something.

Sir John Hegarty closed out the conference with his insightful and entertaining talk. It was refreshing to hear him say that he doesn’t understand why marketers don’t want to make things better! John left us with 5 tips:

  1. Broadcast – branding is remembered by the person who doesn’t buy your product.
  2. Risk – forget the word, it should be exciting.
  3. Consistency – avoid changing the message.
  4. Tell the truth – self explanatory.
  5. Passionate – believe in the product.

Is this the best billboard ever?

Probably not, but with the cricket score on it last weekend it sure would come close! Just in time for the Ashes cricket series (Australia vs England) a new billboard appeared on my drive to work.

Victoria Bitter (VB), a classic Aussie beer has launched its summer campaign with a live cricket scoreboard billboard – drivers passing by get live cricket updates. The design of the billboard looks like a vintage cricket scoreboard from the good old days (eg. Adelaide Oval). The company is giving away mini versions of the billboard that give live updates with special purchases of VB cartons (slabs).

The billboards are in Melbourne (St Kilda), Sydney and Brisbane. I think it’s a brilliant campaign! Let’s hope the rest of the series continues like Brisbane. #cmon #aussies #ashes


To be or not to be controversial in advertising

ImageIt’s been a while between blog posts, but a billboard has propelled me to write.

To launch a new line of bras Australian garment manufacturer Bonds has rolled billboards with the word ‘BOOBS’ on them! As you can imagine the billboard has raised a few eyebrows and strained some neck muscles! Not only has Bonds taken over prominent billboard spaces across Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney; they have also landed themselves in the headlines across all forms of media.

The brief for Clemenger BBDO was to announce to the world that Bonds was a serious player in the bra industry.  This ambitious and aggressive campaign has certainly gotten everyone talking!

Sections of society would find the campaign funny, while others offensive. Reading on the forum, Essential Baby users complained of it being sexiest and others are waiting for the male version.  Children have taken joy in repeating the advertising when they see it, making it tough for some parents to manage. I don’t have kids, but I could see how this could be a problem.

Going for the controversial angle is nothing new in advertising. Sportsbet in July pushed the boundaries when the Lions Rugby team toured Australia. The company’s tagline was ‘Rooting for OZ’. They painted the world’s biggest outdoor sign, a 170 metre wide and 90 metre tall sign on a field near Melbourne’s airport. The sign was very visible for passengers flying in-and-out of the airport. Uproar over the controversial advertisement forced the removal of the sign before the British team touched down in Melbourne. Similar to the Bonds example, Sportsbet received a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.

In addition to the media attention controversial advertising attracts, it appears that pushing the boundaries commands a high brand recall. It may not be the best coverage, but getting mentioned in the media can do wonders for brand awareness.

However being controversial does not suit all brands, but some can get away with it more than others. An example of one controversial advertisement that backfired was the ‘Where the Bloody hell are you’ television ad.  Developed to promote Australia, it did the opposite on the world stage. I think the ad got lost in translation and didn’t result in an influx of tourists.

As it gets harder to be noticed, more and more brands will continue to create controversial advertisements as a way to be a step ahead of their competitors.

Media has a role in educating about racism

Mountain DewRacism has reared its ugly head this week in Australia. Last week’s Australian Football League (AFL) round was meant to be a celebration of Indigenous culture, however an incident by a supporter took the shine off the round. Aboriginal football star, Adam Goodes was subjected to racial slurs and was also involved in another incident during the week when media personality and AFL club president, Eddie McGuire suggested Goodes should help promote the upcoming King Kong musical.

Looking at the conversation that followed its evident that Anglo Australians have a lack of understanding of derogatory terms and the impact racism has on people. Television host, Michael Leach from television show Offsiders summed it up well this morning when he said that we haven’t had the same conversation American has had on the topic. I have to agree with him. It would be great if McGuire used his media influence to lead this conversation.

The topic got me thinking about racism on television. Over the years advertisers have been labelled racist due to insensitive adverts. A recent online commercial in America for Mountain Dew was pulled due to stereotyping black males as criminals. The ad was produced by Tyler, an African-American rapper. Some people claimed the ad was the most racist ever.

In Australia KFC was forced to pull its TV commercial last summer due to racism claims. In the commercial white cricket fans offered West Indian supporter’s fried chicken at a cricket game. The advert made it all the way to the United States where Americans labelled Australians racist because the ad insinuated that African Americans eat a lot of fried chicken.

What’s been good to see recently in Australian is the use of non-white characters in commercials. Marketers have finally caught on that Australia is a multicultural place! Now we just need television shows to do the same and be more racially diverse