Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Highly Evolved: Brand Survival in the Now! Economy

Software may be eating everything. But one thing that I’ve seen at Advertising Week Europe today is that we’re learning to adapt to these changes with zeal. This morning, Trevor Beattie announced the death of the thirty second advert, advocating a culture of five second segments instead.

In the midst of the sea of white noise we are bombarded with on a daily basis, we have learned to select what is vital – or at least pleasurable – in as few as two seconds.

Beattie couldn’t have asked for a better example when wishing to show how our perception of time has changed: when Beattie made his cue for silence, a slightly zealous engineer let the film start rolling instead. To one engineer, thirty seconds was an eternity before it had even begun.

The Now! Economy celebrates breadth and speed over depth and endurance, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the world of advertising. Ad Land needs to adapt, and visionaries like Beattie are leading the way with their rallying cries.

The world of traditional broadcast media is changing, and we must embrace the chaos left in the wake of change and use it as an opportunity to innovate and introduce creative evolutionary solutions.

What is clear is that a more human approach to the medium is needed. Jargon turns craft into content and people into consumers, forgetting the instincts that drive us as human beings and causing cynicism and disengagement on both sides.

At the WIRED talk this morning, Paul Adams, Head of Brand Design at Facebook, made the observation that the best relationships are developed through a series of small, recurring interactions between people rather than grand gestures. We are moving away from the 15 seconds of fame model back towards a modern incarnation of the ‘quality over quantity’ ideal – or at least that’s what will be required of brands who wish to distinguish themselves from the deluge of faceless information out there.

Data is dead: targeted information can only engage people if it is somehow made useful. The value of most data is ephemeral at best, and will never reveal peoples’ intentions. Understanding and relationships can only be built by asking the right questions. The much-maligned crowd knows this, and has reacted with instinctive aversion to the condescension of the media machine.

Being liked is all too easy these days. Brands who want to make an impact will have to focus on wanting to be loved, requiring sincerity, clarity and genuine engagement.

If there’s one thing Advertising Week Europe has, it’s engagement with its crowd: the queues have trailed right down Piccadilly and onto Regent Street and the demand for events has been spectacular. I have a great feeling about the rest of the week.

Beckham and the Bounce-Back Brand

David Beckham epitomises the modern celebrity age: in any other era, we wouldn’t have blinked an eyelid at a 38 year old footballer, other than for the sheer amount of time he had managed to stay in the game. Past his prime, we may no longer celebrate his on-pitch prowess in the same way, but we cannot deny the mammoth commercial clout of his brand. I marvel at the noise and clamour surrounding his move back to Europe.

The Beckham brand in its multiple forms has taken on global proportions, shepherding the herd with it at every stage. By leveraging his football career as a gossip point, David Beckham has been able to move across every point on the map. Beckham’s commercial success has been manifold, moving under the knowledgeable hands of Simon Fuller’s management company 19 from football to perfume and from fashion to advertising. He has moved from pitch to pitch and field to field seamlessly, enlisting the loyalty of millions worldwide each step of the way. We might only speculate on the actual contract struck with the club. Charitable donation is a wonderful stunt, but I guess we’ll never see the real deal.

Beckham is the master of reinvention, rivalling Madonna’s notable highs for his capacity to renegade over the course of his career. Along the way he has modelled clothes, endorsed some of the world’s biggest brands, and seized the world’s attention at all times. The interest that he has harvested across the globe – from the US to China – is now nestling itself into Paris Saint Germain, bringing glamour to the team and providing an opportunity for him to hide from the glare of the paparazzi under the country’s privacy laws.

So what’s the next step for the man who’s done everything in his career? Well, hopefully he will invest his brand capital in becoming a statesman for the game. His role in the Olympic 2012 bid carries a formidable legacy. It’s time for the likes of Beckenbauer and Platini to stand aside. Hopefully Golden Balls has the stuff.

There’s so much more for Beckham than the pantomime of the clichéd pundit pit. On home turf, not since the likes of Trevor Brooking or Bobby Charlton has football had a dignified British football statesman who could bring their wealth of knowledge and experience to the game. Beckham’s in it for the long haul.

Lacklustre Lance Better Peddle Fast If He Wants to Remain in the Fame Game

Stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, and most recently, his Sydney Olympic medal, the only wheels turning under Lance Armstrong right now are those of the press machine. After months of denying the allegations placed against him for doping and being placed under a life ban, Armstrong’s missing the taste of the fame game and has turned to the Supreme Oracle that is Oprah Winfrey to try and redeem his name in a celebrity-bares-all interview.

Obviously, Armstrong has an ambition to try and get back into the public frame. He craves the love of the herd and must be desperate to reinvent this odious legacy. When someone like Armstrong has had such an extraordinary career, they can become addicted to its limelight. He is ambitious, and is already seeding memes about taking part in a triathlon.

Armstrong is currently being held back by a number of unresolved issues. To date, he has kept his head below the parapet, and but for the perseverance of a few dogged and dedicated journalists would probably still be denying the allegations now – like many big brands, Armstrong fell victim to hubris.

Some reports suggest that the Anti-Doping Agency gave Armstrong a chance to plea bargain – a move that could have been one of the most significant moves in the war against drugs that we’ve seen – however – Armstrong seems to have maintained the arrogant belief that he could beat all these charges on his own.

As the crowd have gathered force and the Livestrong campaign has distanced itself from his brand however, Armstrong has had to accept that it’s time to change tack. And change tack he has.

The Oprah Winfrey campaign has been exceedingly well-executed. The interview has been presented as “no holds bound”, with Winfrey claiming to have been “mesmerised” by the interview and to have prepared for it “like a college exam”, bringing over 112 interview questions into the round with her.

In addition to all this pre-release press, Armstrong has the added advantage of having given the interview as a pre-record from his own home. All the props he needs to fashion a comeback are there. The world is watching intently, and the journalists who have hounded Armstrong to date will be baying for answers.

Despite having all the props and the power of Oprah behind him, Armstrong gave a lacklustre first offering. Although this is to be expected in a game of two halves, the confession offered by Armstrong was sterile – offered by a personality that didn’t look particularly full of contrition. He shed no tears and displayed no visible signs of emotion. At times he appeared arrogant and self-contained.

It is time to come clean – but will the exercise reposition him? Who knows.

The PR onslaught is the start of the rehabilitation. Like Chernobyl, he is a voyeur’s toxic attraction. His brand has the radiation equivalent to about 400 Hiroshimas and it’s lonely living in the dead zone. I predict this PR exercise will inch forward and dilute a microscopic fraction of the issues. However, if he hasn’t structured a plan of epic genius, there is more chance of the Russian nuclear sire becoming habitable in the next 5 years.

If Saint Augustine were alive he might proclaim “The media hast made him for thyself , and its heart is restless until it finds its rest in it”. Because the world expected this to be a classic PR exercise the optimised event was indeed a perfect PR pitch. It might not be the best advert for Armstrong and the sport of cycling: the real winner is Mark Fabiani.

Fabiani, lawyer-cum-public-relations-strategist has represented Armstrong since July 2010, when the FDA made its initial investigation into the first doping allegations. With his business partner Chris Lehane, Fabiani has worked the some of the stickiest reputation management issues the world has seen, earning them the title the “Masters of Disaster” for their handling of the Clintons’ reputations in the wake of the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals.

Borkowski