Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Astroturfing (not the grassy type)

Apart from the fact that it is unethical and people are generally terrible at it I think there is another good reason not to astroturf that most people don't realise.

One of the primary reasons people comment on things online is to check their own feelings on something. It's the reason every time I see a terrible film or a great film I check the reviews to see if people though the same as me.

This is where astroturfing can actually make matters worse for a bad product, a bad advertising campaign or a bad company.

Let's use the example of advertising as they seem to be one of the worst industries for this and they all seem to follow the same modus operandi. A terrible ad campaign is reported in the trade press followed by a few negative comments and then a handful of overly glowing ones.

Unfortunately the glowing ones not only stick out as astroturfing but they also normally stir up a much greater reaction than if they weren't there. If you see a terrible ad on an industry site and there are already a handful of negative comments most people will tend to agree that their point of view is covered and not comment.

What the false praise of the astroturfers tends to do on the other hand, is further anger people to the point they're motivated enough to want to comment about how bad they think the ad is. This then generally snowballs because as the emotion rises so does the soap opera and interest of that particular article. The opposite of the kind of attention they originally wanted.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

What the?

I saw this gem of an outdoor ad when I was out and about on Melbourne Cup day. Now don't get me wrong, most advertising is crap, but this one deserves special mention. Mainly because I can't even remotely comprehend what they are trying to say about the product.

Are they trying to recommend that you prioritise the purchase of a fridge over an overseas holiday? The mere fact they they somehow compare the two as mutually exclusive events is crazy.

This would actually make a better ad for Bali tourism. Something along the lines of- 'Fuck getting a fridge, come to Bali instead'. Baffling....

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Is any publicity good publicity?

Some marketing campaigns are so terrible that they actually do damage to a brand. For me the "Save Louie the Fly" campaign was one of these. Its try hard attempt at creating social buzz actually annoyed me to the point that I will not buy their product. Perhaps my reaction is stronger in this case because I work in the industry and think this campaign didn't do much to help the reputation of marketers but I am sure other people have different things that annoy them in the same way.

Obviously in advertising it is good to get a strong reaction but what some agencies and clients seem to have missed is that it is pretty important that this reaction is a positive one.

Another example of this is the Carefree 'vaginal discharge' campaign. I personally wasn't offended by the words used in this campaign but tend to think this pretty transparent attempt at generating some free publicity and debate can only do them more harm than good. 

Sure a few women may find it refreshing that they have dropped the puns and euphemisms but I don't think their reaction to the ads will be as strong as the women who find it offensive. So while most of the women viewing this ad may find it somewhat refreshing, a bit daft or irrelevant there will also be a percentage of women who feel so strongly about this ad that it will get them to not purchase Carefree products.

The thing with just doing anything to gain attention is that while it might seem cool in the short term that everyone is talking about you it is not always the best strategy in the long term. It is easy to get attention and evoke a reaction from people but the skill lies in making it a positive reaction that benefits your brand.

Something like this-


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

What Don Draper can teach us about strategy

I was watching an episode of Mad Men tonight which had a scene where Don Draper was in a meeting with one of their client's 'Fillmore Auto Parts'. Representing 'Fillmore Auto Parts' were three family members who had all inherited the business but could not agree what to do with it.

One brother wanted it to focus on professional mechanics, one wanted it to focus on car owners that do their own repairs and the third brother couldn't make a decision. At seeing this deadlock Don Draper told the brothers they had to work out their strategy before he could help them with their advertising.

Ken Cosgrove (an Account Executive working with Don Draper) suggested that they target both professional mechanics and everyday car owners. Don then rightly pointed out that putting an 'and' between two varying objectives does not make it a strategy.

Don is then called out of the meeting and the client ends up agreeing that pursuing both strategies with the slogan 'Professional auto for everyday people'.

This of course is a bad strategy and one that is often seen in the histories of companies that were never able to adapt to new market conditions and went out of business. Strategy is all about making choices and choosing some goals over others.

Companies often end up with the kind of bad strategy that Fillmore Auto Parts ended up with because the leaders can't reconcile their differing views on what direction the company should take or can't bring themselves to move away from parts of the business they are already invested in.

If you are interested in strategy, a great book that debates a lot of these issues is 'Good Strategy/Bad Strategy' by Richard Rumelt. As the name suggests this book provides you with a framework for analysing strategy which, as Don Draper points out is crucial for marketers to understand before they start to work with a client. Bad strategy can not only lead to under performing business results but also under performing marketing.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

How much to invest in your career?

Not only does the average Australian spend 40% of their waking hours at work but our career choices also dramatically effect our lifetime earnings and our sense of wellbeing.

It seems strange then that we often invest very little time when it comes to planning our next career moves.

Most people could benefit from viewing their career in terms of a simple return on investment (ROI). Obviously the level of return a person looks for is based on their desired work life balance and their career objectives. For most people however, regardless of your ambitions, the level of investment in our careers should be quite significant.

So the question to ask yourself is how much did you invest in your last career change or how much are you currently investing in your career?

If you are like me then at some point you have fallen into the trap of working in your career rather than on it.

If this sounds familiar why not try one of these ideas to boost your career prospects-

  • Find a mentor
  • Create a shortlist of companies you want to work for and build a campaign to get the job you want there
  • Take a course to further your education and knowledge base
  • Build your contacts at industry events
  • Make sure you have thought objectively and creatively about how your Resume and LinkedIn profile will read to others
  • Speak with as many people as possible in your industry to find out the best places to work
  • Volunteer for projects outside your current role or start your own personal projects to plug your skill gaps