Ambush Marketing – the good, the bad and the plain smart!


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With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just around the corner, I thought it would be very fitting to talk about the practice of Ambush Marketing as it is something that always exists around the time of large-scale sporting events.

Before we go any further, let’s define Ambush Marketing. In simple terms Ambush Marketing is the practice by which advertisers seek to connect their brand(s) with a large-scale event in the minds of consumers without paying to be official sponsors of the event. To the best of my knowledge, Ambush Marketing isn’t actually illegal (in the UK), though some may question the ethics of this practice .

There are cases of very clever uses of Ambush Marketing, we will look at some examples further down. The disadvantage of Ambush Marketing for event organisers is that it can devalue the sponsorship. Ambush Marketing for official sponsors of an event can be very frustrating. I guess it is something that isn’t really going to go away so organisations that pay to be official sponsors need to step up their game so to speak. They should see Ambush Marketing as something that pushes them to be even more creative, think outside the box and outshine the efforts of the ‘Ambushers’.

Now for some Ambush Marketing examples…

1)    Paddy Power used a very smart, but very cheeky technique with their ad campaign that they ran at the same time as the London 2012 Olympics. Reading the ad (below) you would think how on earth did they get away with it, but what you probably can’t see clearly from this image is that they were actually referring to an egg and spoon race taking place in London, France. I think this is a genius bit of advertising. LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) was unsuccessful in trying to get the ad pulled down.

Ambush blog paddy power

2)    Something else that LOCOG tried to have banned was the restaurant chain Little Chef’s Olympic breakfast. They were unsuccessful however because it had been called that since 1994.
Ambush blog olynmpic breakfast
3)    And finally an example that shows you just how successful Ambush Marketing can be for the ‘Ambushing’ organisation. Going back to the 2008 Olympics, Coca Cola spent many millions of dollars to become one of the official sponsors of the event. Pepsi tried to capitalise on this event without paying to become official sponsors.They ran an interactive online campaign which was very successful with fans. They also changed the colours of their cans to Coca Cola’s red colour which they claim was done as a mark of respect to China (associated with happiness and fortune). In a survey conducted at the end of the Olympics it was found that 60% of consumers believed that Pepsi were the official sponsors of the Olympics. A bit of a kick in the teeth for Coca Cola huh!
Ambush marketing pepsi


BBC axes BBC 3 from TV in a bid to save money…

Just last week the BBC made a controversial decision to axe BBC 3 from the TV and make available online only. This decision has caused outrage from the channels demographic group, 16-34 year olds.

This decision, the BBC claim, was a difficult but one that had to be made in an effort to save over £50,000,000 in the difficult financial situation that they find themselves in. I do wonder, of all the BBC channels why did they choose to axe BBC 3. Is it because it is the ‘young’ peoples channel and young people are all about digital? This seems to be the argument used by the BBC as to why they chose to axe BBC 3 and not say, BBC 2. Although it is true to a certain extent that our generation is a lot more savvy when it comes to all things digital/technology, it does not necessarily mean that all of us spend all our lives online. Sometimes it is nice when you get in from work or uni to just switch off and relax in front of the television. Especially if you have been working on a computer or laptop all day.

When I first heard the announcement I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I really stopped to think about it did I think actually that is going to be quite inconvenient and I don’t see myself watching the channel as much as I used to. Don’t tell the bride will become somewhat of a distant memory. Sometimes when there is nothing on TV I could always trust that there would be something entertaining to watch on BBC 3. But now of course I can’t watch it with that ease. I do think that this move is going to result in a drop in viewer numbers for the BBC or at least for BBC3 . Something I would like to know is whether the BBC will advertise the BBC 3 programmes through one or their other channels such as BBC 1 because otherwise BBC 3 will simply turn into a channel that you go to watch something specific rather than accidentally stumbling across one of their many entertaining programmes as is often the case. This again supports my case that this will result in a drop in viewer numbers.

I would love to hear the views of others on this move by the BBC. I know it has really caused a stir amongst a lot of the affected demographic. In fact there has been a petition which, the last time I heard, had received over 60,000 signatures, and this was on the day the announcement was made!

Will the BBC respond to its consumers and revoke its decision? I very much doubt it but hey never say never. We will have to wait and see…

Why has Facebook paid $19 billion for Whatsapp?!


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The news of Facebook’s Whatsapp acquisition came as somewhat of a surprise to people but not as much a surprise as the price that they paid for it! I guess the question on a lot of people’s minds is why? Why have they paid a mammoth amount for a messaging app? And when you consider the fact that Whatsapp does not advertise on its app it makes you question how they plan on making their money back unless of course they are going to start using the app for advertising as they did with Instagram, although doing so with Whatsapp would most likely be a very unwelcome move.

Some of the reasons that I believe may have lead Facebook to acquire Whatsapp include:
1) Allegedly Google were interested in buying the app and so Facebook thought they would get in there first!
2) Whatsapp is a very successful app, it     has been reported that the app gets a staggering 1,000,000 new users a day! Facebook may, therefore, have felt threatened as they were slowly becoming less the focus of the social media attention.
3) Could it be that Facebook saw potential in Whatsapp as a provider of rich consumer data with which they could use to achieve more targeted advertising?

For now we can only speculate as we wait to see what will unfold with the newly acquired app.

Assuming Zuckerberg does not introduce adverts to the app, some ideas that have been floating around about what Facebook might do in order to make a return on its investment as quickly as possible includes continuing to charge users the small annual fee, they may introduce more exciting/interactive features that consumers can pay for such as video calls, wallpapers or unique fonts etc. Undoubtedly before long it will all become clear what Facebook strategy is for Whatsapp. In the meantime we will just have to sit back and watch the space!

It would be good to hear your thoughts on this acquisition, maybe you have more to add? It would be good to hear your thoughts.

What place does netnogrpahy have in marketing?


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Netnography is a relatively new phenomenon that is on the increase as a result of the proliferation of digital media and consumers turning more towards online sources for product reviews and to discuss product choices with other consumers.

Netnography has been defined as ‘an online marketing research technique for providing consumer insight’ (Kozinets, 2002).

So how can marketers use netnography to their advantage? It’s often overlooked the amount of insightful data that can be derived from analysing consumer conversations in online forums/communities. It can quite often lead to new product development strategies or your organisation could discover something that isn’t working for your brand, prompting you to do things differently.

An example of a forum with a lot of insightful data for netnography is one of the Listerine online forums that I came across whilst studying at university. Consumers in the Listerine forum came up with so many different uses for Listerine mouth wash. The one that stuck with me was that it was supposedly effective as an insect repellent. As a brand manager reading this in a forum, automatically I would think lets get this tested scientifically. If indeed it was true then there you go you have a new product that consumers are already confident about!

A good example of a brand that uses netnography to its advantage is Duck Tape. Their consumers post so many different innovative uses for Duck Tape other than what it was traditionally made for. In fact the company encourages consumers to upload their weird and wacky uses for the product. This has led to the creation of new Duck Tape products to cater to the various uses that consumers have for the product. Take a look at some of the creative products that consumers have come up with here .

Used properly, netnography can be beneficial for organisations and their brands. The findings are more reliable as the risk of social desirability is eliminated. It is also less intrusive or at least it should be because organisations should only be researching and not actively participating in these online discussions. Some problems associated with this technique include the fact that you can miss out on vital verbal and physical cues. Another issue is that you cannot segment your market as you don’t have the information of the forum participants.

International versus standardisation…The debate goes on


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international-marketingThere has been a long running debate that surrounds the topic of international marketing. The debate is whether organisations venturing out into foreign markets should use a standardisation or adaptation strategy in international markets. Some argue that organisations should use a standardisation approach so as to benefit from economies of scale whilst others argue that organisations should always adapt their strategy and tailor it to the local market in which they operate in.

The truth of the matter is (in my opinion) that neither of these strategies should be used in total isolation from the other. Organisations should maintain some level of standardisation in order to ensure a level of global brand recognition, so things like an organisations logo should remain consistent globally (where using the same logo does not translate into something derogatory in another language/culture). However things like the product and price almost certainly need to be adapted to suit the local market. I’m sure you have heard it before but it is very true that organisation should think globally but act locally.

An organisation that practices the think global act local mantra and has achieved great success doing so is McDonald’s. McDonald’s golden arch is one of the most recognised logos around the world. This has been achieved because they use a consistent brand image globally. From an adaptation point of view, McDonald’s do a lot of research into the international markets they wish to enter. Doing so has resulted in them providing a very much tailored service in their various global markets. For example they sell beer in their German markets and don’t sell pork products in the Muslim countries in which they serve amongst other adaptations they make. This is undoubtedly a big part of the reason that McDonald’s has such a strong hold in numerous international markets.

The simple lesson here is therefore that organisations should seek to balance the need to maintain a consistent brand image globally whilst catering locally to the various cultures and needs of the local market hence using a combination of the two strategies. This post has obviously just touched the topic on the surface. The debate and topic of international marketing goes so deep and is so interesting. I will more than likely delve deeper into this topic in the near future.

Marketing trends for 2014…


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Happy New Year!!! Sorry I have been gone a while but I am back now 🙂

I was looking into the predicted marketing trends for 2014 and came across an article by Marketing Week. As expected the key trend that we will be moving towards is a greater emphasis on personalisation which suggests that ‘digital’ is going to have an even greater role to play in marketing. The article backs this up with statistics as according to research by O2, 56% of consumers said that they would be more likely to use a retailer if they offered a more personalised service

I would say Coca-Cola is a brand that has taken a step in the right direction with regards to ‘personalisation’ with their named drink bottles. It seemed to have been a huge success with some retailers claiming to have seen new faces in stores as people come in specifically to search for a bottle with their name on it. They also, as part of the campaign, set up kiosks and vending machines that could personalise bottles there and then for people who might have rare or unique names. It really was an ingenious marketing campaign!

This trend has emerged as consumers expectations have increased and of course in order to be successful, a brand must strive to at the very least meet but ideally exceed consumer expectations. This move to personalisation is likely to have cost implications as organisations are less likely to benefit from the economies of scales that they might have otherwise benefited from using mass market communications. However if consumers do truly value personalised communications, it should lead to greater returns shouldn’t it? This will call for a cost benefit analysis as you must remember, there isn’t a one size fits all strategy/formula for all organisations.

Currently Social media is a big trend that allows organisations to communicate with their consumers in real-time on a one to one basis. It would be interesting to see if new tools will be developed that will facilitate brands to achieve the goal of personalisation of consumer experience.

Although we have social media which a lot (if not all) organisations now use to communicate with their consumers on a more personal level, it seems with the greater push towards personalised communications there needs to be new tools that are developed that will facilitate brands to achieve the objective of personalisation of consumer experience. If the objective is personalisation, then in my view marketers are going to have collect more of our personal data to be able to understand how to meet our individual requirements. But how this will be achieved is yet to be seen.

Another trend suggested by Marketing Week that I have experienced to a certain extent is the move towards providing customers with a experience. If you went to see the fireworks in London, you will know that they used multi-sensory fireworks for the first time ever! You could actually smell the fireworks! It was pretty cool and a welcome change from the after smell of smoke. Brands need to be thinking along the lines therefore of how do we give consumers a wholesome experience. It is important that the approach used does actually add value for consumers and is not just something that is used for the sake of it being multi-sensory.

So who knows in the near future when we go to a restaurant we may be given a digital tailored menu based on our dietary requirements, food preferences etc. Or maybe when we walk past a digital advert for, say, a fragrance it may squirt some of the fragrance out for us to get a sample– This would be pretty cool!

These are just a few trends that we can expect from this year and beyond. Brands must strive to be proactive rather than reactive in order to reap the benefits of these future trends. There are others interesting suggested trend that I will talk about in subsequent posts.

Protect Your Brand With Content Verification Systems


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With the move to digital technologies increasing, organisations are finding that in order to stay relevant and connected with their target audiences they have to take their marketing activities to the digital arenas where there target audiences can be reached more effectively.

Online marketing has a number of benefits which includes but is not limited to the following; (1) you can reach a large number of people faster than most traditional methods, (2) it requires less of an investment than traditional marketing methods and (3) it can be hugely beneficial for small/medium-sized organisations as it can help them gain international exposure quickly and cheaply.

A major disadvantage of online marketing and one that organisations have been contending with for some time is the lack of control that they have online with regards to where there advertisements are placed. Have you ever heard of Content Verification Systems (CVS)? This piece of technology can actually help with the problem of lack of control over ad placement online.

How CVS works is that it allows organisations to state words, sites and content that they do not want their brands to be associated with therefore preventing their ads from appearing on certain sites.

Let’s use an example to see how CVS can benefit say a baby’s clothing brand. The organisation would input into the CVS all the words, sites etc. that it does not want its brand associated with online. Some of those words may include gambling, alcohol etc. The system will then not allow the brand to appear on websites that have these associations. If the brand did not use the CVS system, it would brand run the risk of appearing on inappropriate websites which could have a damaging effect on the brands reputation/image plus it would be less effective in reaching the target audience.

As with most technologies however CVS should not be relied upon 100%. Besides from the reliability factor there is also the human factor in that it is inevitable that there are words or websites that will be overlooked that ideally should be added to the ‘blacklist’ so to speak. It is therefore imperative that your organisation has a system in place that monitors where your ads are being placed.

Symbolic Consumption of Brands


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Have you ever stopped to think about the true impact that brands have on your consumers? A lot of consumer behaviour research suggests that consumers actually use brands to construct a self-identity for themselves. It also exists where people avoid certain brands to avoid an undesired self-identity. A classic example of this can be seen through the Burberry example when many years ago their target market avoided the brand like the plague due to the negative associations that was built between the brand and the ‘chav’ culture with which none of the target market wanted to be associated with. There is a plethora of really interesting research within the area of brands and symbolic consumption which shows the power that brands can have over us.

The lesson that can be learnt here is that in order to increase your brand(s) chances of success, it is important to learn about and understand your target market through your market research. Ideally through the use of qualitative techniques that taps into consumer’s subconscious minds. This is important because if you understand your target market and understand the self identities that they wish to construct, you can actively, through your marketing efforts, use your brand(s) to communicate these things to consumers. An example of how this can be achieved is through your advertising. Let’s say your brand is a women’s clothing brand intended to make women feel powerful for example. To achieve this, in your ads, you could have strong and successful women wearing your brand. So by putting your clothes within the desired context you are helping to communicate the desired image to your target audience.

Maybe it’s just me but I get so excited by consumer behaviour. If anyone has anything more to add to this or any other views please do share them with me.

Essay Writing Tips


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Here’s one for the students amongst you. Just a few tips for on how to write a marketing/business essay.

1)    Answer the question – I know this sounds obvious but it is so easy to think that you understand the question and write a brilliant essay, only for it to be answering something totally different to what you have been asked! You should therefore read the question and read it again. It is good practice, as you are writing your essay, to go back to the question to ensure that you are still on track.
2)    Structure – It is important to make sure that your essay has a clear and logical structure. A good essay should have an introduction. Depending on what your essay is on it might be a good place to introduce the question, define key terms and tell the reader how the rest of the essay will be structured. It should be followed by the main body. The main body is where you answer the question and really get stuck in. It is where a lot of critiquing of the literature should be done. At the end of the essay should be the conclusion where you, to a certain extent, summarise what you have written and draw your essay to a clear conclusion. If your essay was about the importance of the marketing mix for example, the conclusion that you might draw after critically analysing the literature could be that, yes there is strong evidence to suggest that the marketing mix is important for x, y and z reason, or based on your literature readings you might conclude that actually it holds little importance and that it depends on a number of factors… Hopefully you get my drift.
3)    Critique, Critique, Critique – I think it is safe to say that this skill is what separates a good essay from an excellent essay. The art of critiquing involves having an inquisitive mind and not taking anything at face value. It is important to look at things from different angles as this is what will help you write an insightful, multifaceted and interesting essay. Say you are given an essay where you are required to discuss how fantastic Lidl’s marketing strategy is. A poor essay might say that Lidl’s marketing strategy is fantastic because of x, y and z and it doesn’t develop the answer much further than that. A great essay would critically analyse the question looking at it from different angles. It might acknowledge that Lidls’ strategy is fantastic to a certain extent however…or the extent to which the strategy is considered as excellent depends on. ..
4)    Be concise – Usually at Uni when you are given an essay you are given a strict word limit. I would say this is one of the hardest parts of writing an essay but at the same time it helps you to write a clear and succinct essay. Make sure that every point you write contributes towards answering your question, if not then it’s more than likely that it doesn’t add anything to the essay and therefore doesn’t need to be there.
5)    Literature – Use available literature to your advantage. Always give yourself time to read in-depth and really immerse yourself in the literature. Find literature that supports and refutes what you are writing about. It is great if you can find writers within the same topic that contradict each other. The more literature you read the more juicy stuff you will have to talk about in your essay!essay

Hopefully these tips make sense and will be helpful.