Mobile Couponing, Infographics and Tesco

I had lunch yesterday with an old colleague who moved to Toronto a couple of years ago to work with Transcontinental Media. We had an interesting conversation about couponing, which is apparently a big thing in North America – much bigger than it is here in the UK. My ex-colleague was concerned that, as a consumer publisher, Transcontinental’s use as a channel for distributing coupons was falling.

He blamed this on two things: firstly, most of the bigger multiple grocers/retailers have increasingly large loyalty schemes which are replacing magazines as distribution channels with which brands can reach consumers with coupons. Replacing rather than working alongside because the data-driven loyalty schemes can be much, much more targeted because they hold much, much more data. And secondly because these same grocers are using mobile to traget their consumers with coupons: print is once again losing out to digital.

I was intrigued by all of this. I have a Tesco loyalty card, and they send me a DM piece through the post every now and again. It’s packed full of vouchers that either go staright in the bin or sit in a pile of other post for a couple of months before going in the bin. I pop into Tesco on the way home from work on a whim if I need something for dinner that night. I don’t plan to pop into Tesco that morning, or even that lunchtime, it’s usually as I leave the office, or even as I walk past the store. I don’t carry the vouchers with me just in case I do that.

More to the point, the idea of standing at the checkout faffing with bits of paper whilst the huge queue of people behind me builds and builds and gets more and more frustrated and annoyed doesn’t appeal either. When I see other people doing that I (totally unreasonably) want to scream at them that they’re eating into my tiny and extremely valuable leisure time just so they can get a penny off a bunch of bananas.

So, given all of that, would couponing, mobile style, work on me? Well the answer to that is…maybe. If I could tell Tesco that I’m interested in, say, offers on wine and pizza. If Tesco could detect, via geo-location, when I was in their store and either mail or SMS me an offer for wine or pizza. If I could present that offer, on my phone, at checkout. Then, I MIGHT think about using couponing.

Conincidentally I came across this infographic by Tiffany Farrant (via AP Find) about mobile couponing today. Great graphic, telling an interesting story:

Mobile Advertising and the Rise of Coupons
Infographic By Promotional Codes

So what does all of this mean for my friend at Transcontinental? Well, either find a new revenue stream, or think about getting your data up to scratch. And all the time keep a very close eye on the development of the slate market and the way people use slates. If they, as many people expect, start to replce magazines, then maybe they can also replace magazines as a distributor of coupons.

This post originally appeared on my company blog, here.

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Advertising vs Storytelling

People talk a lot about telling brand stories. They also talk a lot about the idea that traditional advertising is dead. I agree with the former, whilst not entirely agreeing with the latter. But today I came across something that illustrates the tension between the two ideas pretty well.

I read with interest that the Union of Concerned Scientists have decided, in the wake ofclimategate, to run a series of ads to make themselves appear a little more ‘cuddly’.

Their ad campaign ‘curious for life’ begins, unsurprisingly given the name, with the premise that scientists were curious from an early age, remain curious, and are therefore ‘curious for life’. To get this point across, they have created little story-style profiles of climate change scientists, appended to print ads featuring the profiled scientist as an inquisitive child or youth, checking out insects, mud, and, of course, the stars. It’s a neat little campaign and gets across, via the medium of a story, just how normal these scientists are: not cosseted academics in ivory towers, but regular Joes just like you and me. Here’s one featuring David Iounye.

Union of Concerned Scientists

The campaign is in response to accusations levelled in the media (and, crucially, blogosphere) that they are not open with the public and not engaged enough with politics.

Here’s the thing though. They’re using storytelling techniques to achieve their objective (getting regular members of the public to identify with them a little more, appearing more human, open and honest), but they’ve picked the wrong medium in which to tell that story. As Randy Rieland over atGrist (via Damian Carrington at The Guardian) points out, the real issue is their engagement, or lack of, with the blogosphere. The blogosphere is ‘the real crucible’ for climate scientists, and the onus is on them to start dealing with it. If you want poeple to think you’re open, act like it: engage with the most open debate in the history of mankind – don’t whack some posters up on a subway or take out full page advertisements in newspapers. It’s a classic case of the right approach but the wrong audience and the wrong medium.

This post originally appeared on my company blog, here.

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Big Bang Big Boom

There’s not a lot to say about this wonderful piece of work from www.blublu.org, other than: watch it.

So beautiful, so well-conceived, so compelling. Too many great bits to mention. Watch it.

BIG BANG BIG BOOM – the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Direction and animation is by Blu: blublu.org
Production and distribution is by Artsh.it: artsh.it
Sountrack is by Andrea Martignoni

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Blogs, Twitter and old-school media

Nice graphical piece from one of our favouritesgood.is. Apparently, a study byjournalism.org in the US has found that most of the thousands of stories that are passed around the internet via blogs and twitter each day are actually generated by “old-school media” – ie the press.

What The Tweet

This should come as no surprise. There is a myth that the web is full of ‘free content’, that blogs and twitter can replace traditional media, which patently isn’t true. Someone pays the journalists who write these stories. That bloggers read the stories and then comment on them via blog posts, or tweeters distribute the stories by linking to them in no way replaces the origination of those stories. As they say over at Good: “We may like to share information via Twitter, but the information we share comes from the morning’s newspaper”.

There has been a lot of discussion around how to monetise online content, and with Murdoch’s empire erecting paywalls and the Guardian’s championing of free content leading to large losses for GMG, we seem to be on the cusp of working out a paradigm. Although no-one seems to have come up with a new model that isn’t advertising-funded or reader-funded.

Either way, this study seems to show that old-school media consumption is alive and well, regardless of who pays.

I’d like to see the figures from journalism.org – the proportion of stories shared that come from ‘old media’ – as the post and infographic on Good don’t furnish us with that information. But I would imagine any Twitter user or blogger instinctively feels the truth behind the claim.

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Nike: write the future

I know everyone in the WORLD has seen this by now, and I would imagine that everything there is to be said about it has been said. But I just had to post about it because of the sheer exuberance of the thing. As a friend of mine @NeillSBullet said: ‘that ad just made me REALLY excited about the World Cup. Can’t wait!’

Yes, once again, Nike (and Wieden+Kennedy) have got their advertising on the button. They’ve used their roster of star sponsorships (even crossing over to their basketball properties) to great effect. And they’ve managed to squeeze two concepts into one ad.

First, footage of sublime skills. It’s the direct, Ronseal approach. What better way to promote football’s showcase than with showcase football? So far, so easy, so been done before.

Second, a wonderful imagining of the alternative futures that flash through different players’ minds before they decide on a course of action in the game. The beauty of this is how the creatives have managed to get across the personalities (or at least public perception of the personalities) of the different sportsmen. So Rooney is the humble, down-to-eath player that the public can identify with. His thoughts turn to the possibility of failure and that’s what motivates him to his show of gritty determination and unbending will. Failure is not an option. He is the embodyment of the way the English play football, the embodyment of a nation, even, if you’ll forgive the hyperbole, invoking Churchillian reisitance: we’ll never surrender! Ronaldo on the other hand is the ego-driven rock-star, his motivation the adulation of a nation, erecting of statues in his honour, appearences on the Simpsons. His perceived arrogance is clear: it’s all about him. Ronaldinho’s sequence is all about flair, partying, fun, style. It embodies his personality, but also the football style of his team and the (admittedly cliched) global perception of Brazil as a nation. Samba!

But talking about it almost detracts form the effect of watching the thing: it’s just a party of a video, a celebration of everything that’s great about the World Cup. And Neill was right. For the first time this year I feel really excited about the prospect. Roll on June!

This post originally appeared on my company blog, here.

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Speaking to the past

Penguin are turning 75 this year, and their iconic orange spines and minimal covers have got Douglas Coupland and Penguin Canada thinking. Penguin covers, says Coupland, act as a time stamp. Taking a look at a cover design can take you back to a time and a place – they’re a bit of a Proust’s Madeleine triggering involuntary memory in and of themselves.

So what better way to celebrate this than to reverse the process and imagine what we would say to the people of 1935 through the medium of the Penguin cover? On their microsite, speaking to the past we get the opportunity to do just that.

It’s a lovely idea and helps to bolster Penguins already iconic brand status, whilst generating content and interaction and (and here’s the really good bit) letting us, the consumer, have a bit of fun.

Nice work Penguin – and happy birthday!

Thanks to mcmrbt for the cover images.

This post originally appeared on my company blog, here.

Chaplin In Post

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Urban Abstract

Not a great deal I can say about this piece, apart from that it’s gorgeous.

You can read more about it on Vimeo or on their Urban Abstract website which works as a part of the artwork.

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