Tuesday, 26 February 2008

A bank that makes you smile?

Bit of a random one, but this really tickled me. It's from BankWest, Australia.

Once you've finished playing with the kittens check out the folders on the left. They highlight a step by step process of how BankWest's services are all designed around making their customers a little bit happier - 'Happy Banking'.

'Research' (including interviews with flowers and toy-dogs) reveals what makes people happy in the first place, 'Experiments' test these hypotheses, and 'Actions' gives a rather sweet list of what the bank does to make you happier as a result!

I don't even bank with them and I'm a little bit happier! If nothing else, when was the last time you discovered a financial services site that kept you engaged in a good way (and not in an "Oh bugger, which mortgage product will screw me over the least" kind of way)?

Let's just hope they haven't got the standard faces of misery behind their counters on a packed Monday lunchtime!

PS A final thought - similarities to Cadbury's 'Gorilla'? Random animal + instrument + song? Alas, no Phil Collins, but these kittens can spell AND whistle...

Monday, 18 February 2008


I watched one of those token "Best 50 Outtakes/FA Cup Finals/Hit of the 80s/Grange Hill scenes 2007" shows last Friday, but this time it was about Youtube clips.

It's a real sign of the times when Youtube gets it's own "best of the best" show, but what really caught my attention was that there was not one ad/brand viral in the ultimate list. There were plenty of dancing prisoners, sneezing pandas, karate babies, examples of advanced geekery and even a masturbating kangaroo, but not one single ad-based viral. This struck me as a little surprising.

So I went and had little look on Youtube at three of probably the most famous brand virals on the web: Cadbury's "Gorilla", Dove's "Real Beauty" Honda's "Cogs". There were multiples of every clip but based solely on the top ranked version these were the results:

  • Cadbury's Gorilla = 1.9 million views
  • Dove's Realy Beauty = 6 million
  • Honda's Cogs = 1.3 million

They absolutely destroyed some of the figures accumulated by the clips shown on TV. In fact, if you were to type "gorilla" into a Youtube search the first thing that pops up is Cadbury's classic mix of a primate, Phil Collins and a drum kit!

Views are one thing, but as Charles Colton (and Ghandi!) once told us, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". Is imitation a sign of a good clip? If so, these three brand beauties definitely score well!

Here's my favourite versions as a little taster (look at how many hits they're getting!):

Check out the full top 50 clips here.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Online Copycats

Loren Coleman specialises in suicide prevention and in his book, The Copycat Effect, he examines suicides committed by prominent public figures over the last 300 years. Interestingly, in the majority of cases such suicides were followed by a near immediate increase in the overall suicide rate. He also found that there were usually links between the public figures and those in the general public that killed themselves – in method and, more interestingly, in physical appearance and lifestyle.

He cites, for example, the death of Marilyn Monroe in 1962. In the month after her death there were 197 suicides in the US that corresponded closely to that of the actress, and most were young blonde women. Weird?

Perhaps not. Most people relate to celebrities, at least on some level. We admire those who stand up for what we believe in, follow those who like the same things that we like and, more often than not, like to feel that we’re just a bit like them. Now I’m not suggesting that we’ll all be topping ourselves at the first sight of our favourite celeb's death, but such sheep-like behaviour is all part of human nature.

Asch proved that we’d happily agree with the masses when answering a simple question, even if, instinctively, it felt wrong. When queuing to use the urinals we always stand at least a metre away (apparently!). It’s just what everybody does. So we follow suit.

This has huge implications when it comes to the world of online communities. Social networks provide vast opportunities for peers to link up and to publish and share their thoughts, actions, lifestyle, etc. It’s a perfect way to find more people even more like you. You can join a group, follow bloggers, chat to music fans of similar taste. Peer to peer? For sure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that the online social scene is a grooming ground for lemmings, but it is a perfect arena for the “Copycat Effect”. Rather scarily, could the Bridgend suicides be a rather tragic example?

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Facebook - The Hotel California

It's all getting a bit sticky for Facebook as their list of privacy issues gets longer and longer. If worrying about how they use your details wasn't bad enough (shown by the consumer backlash to their Beacon application), apparently you're still in trouble even after you've left. Check out this article on how tricky it can be to delete your account.

The Hotel California quote sums it up really - "You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave." Deactivate? Yes. Delete all your details? No.

Ironically, if you really want to delete your account one of the best ways can be found on a Facebook group - "How to permanently delete your Facebook account".

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Brand Power

I came across a Frubes Brand Power advert the other day and was a bit confused by it all. I'd never heard of 'Brand Power' before so I thought I'd have a bit of a potter on the internet.

Their mission statement centres on providing "rational information about grocery products to help you make an informed purchase when you're at the supermarket". Apparently they make TV ads, websites, catalogues, etc but from a "Facts and Value through information" point of view, as opposed to glorifying the product through a more traditional advertising approach. Put simply they're trying to cut through the bullsh*t that we're paid to create!!

I can kind of see where they're coming from; thinking of the consumer first, providing a useful, informative service, trying to promote honesty through neutrality, allowing the real benefits of the products to shine, and so on. But, for me, there seems to be a few real weaknesses with this.

  1. To get a Brand Power advert you have to sponsor them. Some might say pay. Paying for neutrality? Hmm...
  2. The adverts often conflict messaging used in the brand ads.
  3. Brand Power is neither a recognised industry body, nor is it seen as one by the average Jo Consumer. It lacks gravitas. That little "Brand Power" stamp in the bottom corner doesn't mean anything. Nor does the dodgy newsesque music that accompanies it.
  4. I don't believe for a minute that they'd mention a flaw or weakness in a product (i.e. Aquafresh is great for cleaning your teeth, but if you don't want stinky breath you should try Colgate).
  5. I'm not sure that they deliver on their promise - who decides that Frubes are "Fun to eat"? Fun? Because you don't need a spoon? Really?
  6. The adverts are really really bad.

Attempting to be neutral and providing an informative as opposed to a marketing service seems like a nice idea, especially in the current climate of consumer power. I just don't see this approach working and, more importantly, I don't buy it for a minute. And neither do many others by the look of it: their website invites product users to write their own reviews on the brands that they cover. Across all their brands and products they've only had 19 pieces of input so far... And how would Nescafe feel if they were paying Brand Power x amount of cash just for consumers, and presumably Brand Power as the voice of the consumer, to slate them!

In fact, albeit a little vain, I quite like being wowed by those shallow brand ads sometimes, and I'd like to think I could cut through the bulk of the crap myself. What do you mean you don't get hooked up to a jellyfish when you buy a 3 phone? If I use Lynx I won't turn into chocolate?

I reckon Adland's safe.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Super Bowl or Super Ads?

So, Super Bowl XLII is over with the New York Giants overcoming the Patriots at the last to clinch a 17-14 victory and their 3rd Super Bowl ever . OK, I pretty much copied the above from a BBC article and I actually know bugger all about American football and have little inclination to learn either. However, I do have a geeky side that is a *tiny* bit obsessed by stats.

I had a bit of a snoop around some search activity in the States over the last weekend (with the Super Bowl in mind) and, unsurprisingly, found not only the official Super Bowl site but links to the sponsors and a site solely dedicated to the 'commercials' (complete with links to accompanying microsites). More surprising were the other search volumes results picked up by Google analytics.

On the run up to the weekend there was an increase in searches concerning "kick off time" whilst on the day itself (3rd Feb) there was a lot of activity around the search terms "giants win superbowl". In fact, the latter was the 11th 'highest search riser' of the day - no shocks there.

But guess who made the top ten? The sponsors. At number 4 and 5 was "goddady.com" and "go daddy.com" (a web hosting company), at 6 was "Audi R8 price" who just pipped "life water" at number 7. All featured adverts during the Super Bowl commercial breaks.

Not only did the sponsors dominate the search volumes on the day of one of the biggest sporting occasions in the US, a quick look at searching volumes so far today reveals that "super bowl commercials" appears no less then 4 times in various formats in the top 10!

As a sports fan this broaches quite a few philosophical questions, but if you put these aside for a rainy day you're left with a great example of a tradionally hard to measure media having a direct, and measurable, effect. Awesome.

As for the most popular search term on the day of the mighty Super Bowl, I have no idea who "Tom Petty" is nor "How old" he is. But give "How old is Tommy Petty" a go on the Google machine - seems to be the done thing stateside.