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Wednesday, 01 November 2017 00:00

Will taking a stand further fragment brands?

Brands have been called on to make a stand and many have answered the call. So far this year we have seen a number of large, well-known brands lining up to save the world or make it a better place to live in. I applaud the fact that these brands are willing to take a stand, but I do wonder if it is yet another step on the road to brand fragmentation.

In an opinion piece published in AdAge earlier this year Deb Freeman, chief strategy officer at FCB New York, highlights the rise of the everyday activist and states,

“The brands that align to these new everyday activist values are going to be the ones that win. In our new world -- where the masses are making their voices heard in bold, public ways -- brands must start doing the same, or risk their competitors outshining them. It's critical, however, to make sure that your stance is born out of your preexisting purpose. Otherwise, you will appear opportunistic.”

But is this viewpoint correct? Should brands enter the fight or might they benefit more from offering a point of stability and neutrality in a chaotic and partisan world? Freeman notes that beloved brands have been defined by “human truths”. In the past the two words human and truth would have been prefaced by third, and that word is “universal”.

A universal human truth ideally spans culture, borders and time. Brands like Coca-Cola, Pampers and Facebook did not become the global powerhouses they are today without the ability to engage the emotions of a widely varied audience of all colors and creeds. While it is easy to fixate on the differences between people across and within countries, there is huge consistency in what binds us together as human beings: feelings like love for family, the desire for happiness and the satisfaction of caring for others.

I cannot help but feel that in the desperate rush to be part of the cultural debate many brands risk not only fragmenting what they stand for – because not everyone shares the views of the well-intentioned brand manager – but also heightening the divides between us. In the political world we see ever stronger acrimony of discourse and a growing political divide. Could we see the same thing happen with a brand’s customer base as it divides into loyalists who espouse the same cause and deniers who do not?

Far-fetched? Maybe. But one thing is for sure, Freeman is completely correct when she states that brands must ensure that their stand originates from a pre-existing purpose. Do not take up issues related to fair and equal pay if your company does not already walk the talk. Do not suggest your brand is sustainable unless you are doing everything you can to make it so. Because if the truth comes out the social media maelstrom will show no mercy.


Written by Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown.

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 00:00

Slow TV- Is Entertainment slowing down?

Entertainment is slowing down in a bid to combat the stresses of daily life and help people relax.

What does entertainment look like in a wellness-focused world? Once a niche trend, slow media is reaching a new wave of consumers through mass distribution.

Baa Baa Land has been called “The dullest film ever made”—not by critics, but by its creators. The eight-hour slow-motion epic has no dialogue or storyline, focusing instead on a field of sheep from Tiptree, in the UK. Rather than entertain, the film was created to help people relax by encouraging them to unwind and even fall asleep.

“We all know how addicted everyone is to Netflix and YouTube, and we thought, wouldn’t it be cool to create one of the world’s most relaxing films?” Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm and co-executive producer of Baa Baa Land, told The Star. “We thought it’d fun and a little bit quirky, and hopefully people find it super relaxing.” Calm, a US-based website and app that aims to help users slow down and relax through meditation and mindfulness, commissioned the film, which premiered in theaters in London and is now available online.

Wellness is changing the face of entertainment, as “slow entertainment” offers a calming antidote to the hectic pace of modern life. This year, Netflix’s most talked-about show is Terrace House, a slow-moving Japanese reality show centered around six young adults who sit in a house and talk. Last year, the company streamed several programs from the Norwegian Broadcasting Company’s “Slow TV,” including the four-hour National Knitting evening and the seven-hour Train Ride: Bergen to Oslo. Another company embracing slow TV is the BBC, whose first 2016 foray into slow programming attracted close to a million viewers.

The revival of slow TV has inspired other mediums to slow down and embrace mindfulness. Last week, BBC Radio Three announced “Slow Radio,” a new podcast designed to escape the “frenzied world,” featuring the sounds of birds, mountain climbing and chanting monks. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has just launched “Seeking Stillness,” a series of installations with themes that focus on contemplation, meditation and clearing the mind.

As discussed in our Well Economy report, wellbeing is now a top priority for consumers. Slow entertainment offers respite from the chaotic realities of the world, allowing people to escape and take comfort in mindful nothingness. Even in the era of “peak TV,” media companies are showing that there is an appetite for creative content that helps consumers unwind.

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 00:00

UK advertising delivers strongest H1 on record

UK advertising expenditure grew 3.7% to £10.8bn during the first six months of 2017, the largest H1 total of any year since monitoring began in 1982.

The record investment highlighted in Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report data, published today, has led to an upgraded forecast for 2017 of 3.1% growth, which indicates annual spend in excess of £22bn.

Overall market growth is being driven by increased spend on digital advertising. Digital - defined as internet and digital out of home (DOOH) - accounted for 54% of all advertising spend in the first half of the year, some £5.8bn of a total £10.8bn committed by advertisers.

The first half growth was boosted by a 4.0% year-on-year rise during Q2. This was the 16th consecutive quarter of market growth, and the strongest rate since Q4 2015.

Mobile growth of 36.1% was the main contributor to a 13.0% rise in internet spend during the quarter. Other digital formats are also performing strongly, including national newsbrands (+7.9%), regional newsbrands (+10.4%), TV broadcaster video-on-demand (+10.6%), digital out of home (+30.4%) and digital advertising formats for radio (+38.9%).

Other media - cinema (+14.4%) and direct mail (+0.8%) - also recorded growth during the second quarter of 2017.

Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive at the Advertising Association said:

"Spend on advertising is showing strong resilience, at a time of real uncertainty for UK business. We know advertising has a positive effect on the economy, with every pound spent generating six pounds of GDP, so it is good to see steady, sustained growth. The upgrade of our 2017 forecast by a further one percent, the equivalent of an additional investment of £190M, should be seen as a cautious indicator for continued growth in the UK economy."

James McDonald, Senior Data Analyst at WARC commented:

"The latest data highlight the importance of mobile to advertisers in the UK - spend on mobile ads accounted for the entirety of internet growth during the second quarter of 2017 and 97% over the first six months of the year. As mobile usage and credit-fueled consumer spending continue to rise, investment in mobile advertising will track ahead of other platforms this year."

The Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report is the definitive measure of advertising activity in the UK. It is the only source that uses advertising expenditure gathered from across the entire media landscape, rather than relying on estimated or modelled data.

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 00:00

Vodafone unveils new brand positioning

“The Future is exciting. Ready?’’

Will inspire and navigate customers to make the best of a promising tomorrow

Vodafone today announced a significant evolution of its brand positioning and visual identity in India, making it the first brand with a progressive view of the world. Vodafone’s new brand positioning focuses on the theme of optimism about the future and positions Vodafone as a modern contemporary, inspiring and future fit brand, using the new tagline, "The Future is exciting. Ready?"

It is a significant metamorphosis for one of India’s most iconic and loved brands, since the 'Power to you' tagline was introduced in 2009. This new positioning, part of Vodafone’s global rebranding exercise across 36 countries, is designed to underline Vodafone’s belief in new technologies and digital services playing a positive role in transforming society and enhancing individual quality of life in the years ahead.

Launching the new brand identity, Sunil Sood, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone India, said, “India is entering a new exciting era - an era of Digital, Convergence, Big Data, IoT, Cloud, Augmented Realities, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. The real and virtual worlds are converging at an unprecedented pace to create a bold new Future. Our new brand positioning emphasizes Vodafone's mission and purpose to help customers and communities adapt, navigate and prosper from the remarkable new trends reshaping the world. At Vodafone, we are excited about the possibilities ahead and are ready to enable our customers to conquer this new world.”

The new visual identity will place greater emphasis on Vodafone’s iconic 'speech mark' logo - the biggest change to one of the most recognized symbols of Vodafone since the hallmark logo was created in 1998. The ‘speech mark’ will now appear as the central graphical focus overlaid on all marketing and marketing communications collateral. The logo will also appear in a new 2D design in place of a skeuomorphic 3D approach.

Following a dramatic rise in digital literacy and adoption in India - a trend that’s being reflected across demographics and geography, Vodafone’s new brand positioning is a visual and intrinsic representation of its ‘Readiness’ to equip and empower customers to stay connected with their world…. From saying ‘Hello’ with conversations on the go, accessing the myriad offerings of mobile internet, content, fin-tech, M2M and IoT solutions, Vodafone has consistently raised the bar in its offerings to cater to the evolving needs of retail and enterprise customers.

Over the years brand Vodafone has been iconic with the much loved Pug and the Zoozoos. This new positioning further strengthens brand Vodafone and takes it to the next level. A multimedia marketing campaign will look at simple human stories of embracing technology through the eyes of recent ‘common man’ icons Asha-Bala. These stories will be told across multiple media with a high-decibel 360-degree Campaign – from TV to Digital incorporating the latest technologies.

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 00:00

DDB Mudra Group partners with Hotify

Years ago, Artificial Intelligence (AI) existed only in the realm of science fiction. In 2017, its growth and influence on the future of businesses and on mankind in general is limitless.

This high-end technology is all set to influence marketers in ways that are more pervasive and sophisticated than ever before. It truly is the next big thing in marketing communications and so many other industries.

The DDB Mudra Group, one of India’s leading integrated marketing communications agency has consistently worked towards providing innovative and focused marketing solutions to its clients. With Hotify’s AI expertise, the Group aims to enhance marketing efficacy for the businesses they manage while simultaneously increasing resource optimization.

Hotify is a leading Enterprise AI solution provider, committed to make AI work for enterprises across a wide variety of industries and sectors. Consumer marketing and communication is a key focus sector for Hotify and presents strong potential for AI-led innovations. In this partnership, Hotify shall enable the DDB Mudra Group to launch innovative AI-led marketing and communication products and services.

By taking on this AI-first focus, the agency intends to augment its services with Artificial Intelligence and foray into AI-first products to deliver increased ROI, efficiency and predictability for their clients’ digital initiatives.

As partners, the DDB Mudra Group and Hotify intend to use available Big Data information, and shape it into actionable solutions that address consumer needs, with the aid of AI. The agency looks to leverage Hotify’s AI expertise and platform to create AI-enabled digital solutions for its clients as well as its internal processes for enhanced delivery.

Quoting on the partnership, Deepak Nair, Chief Growth Officer, DDB Mudra Group said, “As the digital ecosystem continues to evolve, it is imperative that we look towards creating more meaningful solutions for our clients in all facets of their business. This partnership with Hotify AI, with their incredible wealth of knowledge, expertise, and robust platform, is a bold step in creating value for our clients across the Group.”

Quoting on the partnership, Ankur Dinesh Garg, Chief Executive Officer, Hotify AI Group said, “We are on a mission of enterprise AI adoption and our partnership with the DDB Mudra Group is a great milestone for us. Hotify has an eco-system driven strategy, where we work as AI enablers to our partners, who in turn bring significant domain expertise and existing clients relationships with large enterprises. Our partnership with the DDB Mudra combines our AI capability with the agency’s domain expertise- to deliver AI-led success in consumer marketing segment and increase ROI, efficiency and predictability for the DDB Mudra Group’s clients”.

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