Archive for May, 2011

Has Wieden got the idea for the Nokia N8 right?

May 8, 2011

Wieden and Kennedy’s launch ad for the Nokia N8 features blind photographer Gary Waite taking pictures with the new Nokia phone. Has Wieden come up with a winning idea for the struggling mobile phone manufacturer? I’d have to say no I don’t think so.

The reasons?

The ad, while conceptually strong, doesn’t address key perceptions or misperceptions about the brand. Nokia is largely seen as a has-ben (at least as far as smart phones are concerned). Its technology is both indistinctive and of questionable relevance and value to consumers today. This is a key issue that the advertising hasn’t addressed and needs to urgently if it’s to take the brand some place other than the mortuary.

What Nokia needs to be doing, whether through the N8 or a separate brand initiative, is giving its prospective buyers confidence. Confidence comes from providing people with a vision, one they can relate to and want to be part off. Nokia has not provided this through advertising or any other form of communication to its audience. Until it does so, it is unlikely to dislodge its competitors as a brand of choice in the competitive smart phone category.

The ad is also strategically weak. It is based on a tenuous platform – better pictures. If people are interested in high quality pictures, they’d be using a proper camera – not a phone that doubles up as one.

The credibility for their camera feature is weak too.

It’s based on an award from ‘what digital camera’ – how many know the brand or see it as a credible source of endorsement I ask?

True, Wieden would have had its challenges doing this ad, the biggest among them being a product with nothing much to talk about but its camera feature. Still, it remains, the agency hasn’t cracked one of its trademark game-changing ideas the way it has for Old Spice, Nike or even most recently the Chrysler 300 (show where you’re going, without forgetting where you’re from).

Wieden, like Nokia, need to figure out what their brand story is, its relevance to consumers lives and why they should believe or buy it.


How well do you know your customers?

May 7, 2011

One of the first questions I ask clients is ‘do you know who your customers are?’ 9 out of ten will invariably admit they don’t.

Knowing one’s customer is fundamental to the development of any effective marketing strategy. Yet, it’s an area of intelligence that is often overlooked or ignored.

If you want to know who your customers are, so your marketing can reach out to them more effectively, there are ways to find out.

1. You can look at data you already have

Many organisations have a rich repository of data that marketing departments simply don’t tap into. During the sign up or sales process for many services, basic but key information like date of birth, gender, address, type of purchase and date of purchase are provided. By simply looking at this data, important extrapolations can be made on the type of customer who is more likely to buy your products and who you should be targeting as a result.

If you need to go a step further, a simple variable like a customer’s postcode can help. If linked to geocoding services provided by external vendors such as Singapore Post, what they can do is help you build a richer picture of your customers – not just in terms of demographics but also psychographics, tastes and lifestyles, allowing you to better understand the way you should be marketing to them.

2. You can look at sources of media intelligence

Media agencies are a rich source of business and marketing intelligence. Most have access to key research databases like AC Nielsen’s Media Index for example – which can guide your understanding of who you should be targeting.

Based on interviews with thousands of Singaporeans, these databases use indexing to tell you which consumer sets are more likely to buy your brand and also those of your competitors. They have lifestyle-based questions that help you understand their mindset and attitude.

In a recent project for a soft drink manufacturer, we looked at such a database to understand which customer sets were more likely to prefer the product category we were working on and also what their mindsets were. We zeroed in on females 15 – 21 ultimately – a group the entire strategy thereafter was based.

3. You can enhance data by adding variables to it

Often a company has key variables in its data that are missing. Sometimes these can be obtained through external companies that trade in intelligence.

In a project I worked on for a firm that operated in the b2b space for example, we used SIC (standard industrial classification) codes to understand who the company’s key customers were and also how we could be targeting more of them in the future. What SIC codes helped us do was drill down to 3 key verticals that made up more than 80% of the company’s revenues as well as the 6 key sub-verticals under each of them. The result was a crystal clear image, based on actual sales data that showed who the companies customers were – and who they should be targeting in the future as a result as well.

4. You can conduct formal research into the matter

Few customers will grudge an effort from a company to get to know them better. When I worked on the AUSTAR Pay TV business in Australia, we sent out a survey to the company’s entire base of 350,000 customers. 15% responded! What was interesting about this survey was that it was not digitally activated. It was an A4 sheet of 15 questions that had to be filled in and mailed back to us. What we gained from the survey was pure gold in terms of knowledge and understanding of our customers, their life-stage, mindset, perception of the brand, consideration of competitors and intention to take up further products.

The knowledge helped drive a long term customer management strategy with clear KPI’s also being formulated for multiple divisions across the company from marketing, sales, customer service, billing and product development.

Do you know your customers?

If you don’t, there are 4 easy ways to find out. Ways that can help you reach out to them through marketing in a more relevant and effective manner.

An idea is what it’s all about

May 4, 2011

Martin Puris, of Ammirati Puris once said that ’80% of all advertising fails because it is not based on a strong idea.’

Martin knows a thing or two about ideas. He’s come up with quite a few in his lifetime. Including BMW, ‘the ultimate driving machine’ and Club Med -‘the antidote to civilization.’

What these ideas were successful in doing was position the brands that held them successfully against their competitors carving a unique niche for themselves in the process.

Other brands that also developed clear ideas for themselves were POSB – ‘neighbours first, banker’s second.’ Absolutely brilliant. Hasbro – ‘the family is together again.’ Disney – ‘magical experiences.’ Chrysler 300 – ‘show where you’re going, without forgetting where you’re from.’

What makes each of these ideas special? Again, they vocalize a belief or point of view that competitive brands don’t and create a unique and resonant position for themselves.

Why is defining an idea so important for a brand? It gives it focus, and in doing so keeps communication and also products, people and investments on track.

The trouble with brands today?

Not enough time is spent defining the core idea on which they will be based. The result is logic that’s fuzzy, and advertising and customer perception that invariably is too.

What does the process of developing an idea for one’s brand entail?

Usually, a study of the category in which the brand operates, a study of the brand itself and the consumers it serves. Usually, I’ve found, an opportunity will reveal itself once the 3 key areas (category, consumer and brand) are put underneath the microscope.

From this point on, a creative leap is required to turn an opportunity into a genuinely strong and resonant idea.  It’s a lot of work to do this, but the result – a much sharper focus for your brand – is well worth the trouble and effort.

The Planning Agency has a number of tools to help clients define the core idea their brand stands for. To find out more, call us on 9386 8678 or e-mail