Tuesday, March 27, 2007


So the clocks went forward once again at the weekend. I am always grateful that this happens on a Sunday, yet at the same time it doesn’t stop you from feeling cheated out of that hour (even if you do get it back later in the year). But then, on Monday I saw something which made me thankful that the clocks had gone forward and spring has now come – a Cherry Blossom tree.

In Japan 'The short period when the delicate pink flowers bloom is keenly awaited and the flowers are said to signify that life is short and should be enjoyed, so many towns and firms plan festivals and parties to mark the season.' I found this information on my brother’s Bebo page (sorry for the blatant stealing Paul!). I’m not sure where he found it from, but I thought that it was such a lovely expression of the joy that spring and nature brings into people’s lives. Somehow when the flowers have bloomed and the sun is shining it makes everyone so much happier, contented and positive.

In our old house we grew up in we had a huge cherry blossom tree at the font of the house. Every year it would bloom and then its petals would fall over the garden and our street. It was such a beautiful sight and the image will forever stick in my memory. If there is one thing that I miss from that house it’s our old tree.

After spotting the tree yesterday I had a discussion with my friend who grew up four doors along about the tree and memories of the old street, I was surprised and heartened to go on my brothers page and find that he too had been reminded of the old tree in some way and had decided to write about it.

And that’s exactly why I love the social sites and blogs which over the past couple of years have become a part of everyday life for so many people, including myself. It’s nice to be reminded of things, to be inspired or to learn something new and find pleasure in it on your own. But I think it’s even nicer when you’ve been thinking about something or just discovered something new and then you find that someone else has recently had the same thought / revelation. Being able to share your experiences and thoughts is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I also particularly like quotes. And the reason why, apart from their inspirational value, is that (and I’m sure I also read this in a quote) it is nice to see someone have the same thoughts as yourself but see it expressed much more eloquently. This is something I also find with other people’s blogs.

So long live blogs and long live nature. Which survives longer is up for debate I suppose.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Thoughts on promotion

“Being noticed is not the same as being remarkable. Running down the street naked will get you noticed, but it won’t accomplish much. It’s easy to pull off a stunt, but not useful.”

The Guardian, January 2007

Do I agree? Well, yes and no. Is it important to get noticed – of course and I would say it is also useful to get noticed. If your potential customers have never heard of you, they are never going to buy your products. But, yes, I would agree that running down the street naked is not going to do that job for you.

I would argue though that stunts and indeed any promotional activity, if appropriate to your products / services can be effective in raising your profile and getting press coverage. But the key is making sure that it is relevant. And as with any marketing activity, planning will help to ensure success. Consider what your target audience is interested in, where you are likely to find them and make sure that any communication you send your audience supports what you have sent before. By all means try a (relevant) stunt every now and then if you wish, but don’t rely on them.

I’ll leave you with the thoughts of the Chartered Institute of Marketing:

“Promotion must gain attention, be appealing, tell a consistent message and above all else give the customer a reason to choose your product rather than someone else’s.”


Friday, March 16, 2007

Some more on inspiration

After my post on inspiration yesterday, I was reminded of one truly inspirational figure that I found a couple of weeks ago, again through Seb’s blog. This person has no relation to marketing whatsoever, but certainly makes me smile. The figure in question is Olive Riley, a 107 year-old from Australia who has begun her own blog, The Life of Riley. It’s typed by a friend of hers, Mike.

In the blog Olive talks about her life, both past and present and even takes up the plight of one of her fellow Australians who is fighting against the courts to keep his lettuce crop. At 107 I can only imagine the truly amazing things she has seen throughout her lifetime. And judging by her spirit and energy, the amazing experiences she is still to have.

Unquestionably she is an inspiration. Going by the response on her blog, I’m certainly not the only one to think so either. Here’s to you and your Shandies Olive!


Thursday, March 15, 2007


I read two interesting posts yesterday on the subject of culture jamming. The first can be found at wowee, wow, a lovely blog from a copywriter in Germany, written in English and the second from she sees red, a blog from an instillation artist from Australia that I only discovered yesterday through Seb’s blog. Check them both out.

Although the posts were not exactly on the subject of inspiration, it got me thinking about how people are inspired, especially in marketing. Although much of our work here may be strategic, we do get to work on creative projects as well, and especially in my case, I look to many different sources each week to find subjects to write about in our blog.

According to Wikipedia, the word inspiration literally means ‘breathed upon’ and has its origins in Hellenism and Hebraism. It is a sudden burst of creativity which is irrational and unconscious.

So, where do I look when I want such a revelation?

Well, unsurprisingly, often my first stop is the Internet and the posts of my fellow bloggers. I always like to see what has caught people’s attention this week and what their take on it has been. Other sources of inspiration, and what led me from the above posts to my current train of though, is art. Art in its traditional sense, street art, art in advertising, architecture, performance art, cartoons (yes, I’m counting this in the same category), photography, fashion… Some people get excited about words. I get excited by images. That’s not to say though that I don’t gain inspiration from the words I read, many an ad headline has spurned me on, books that I may have read, news stories, either in the marketing world or just in general. And music. How many compositions and songs have inspired generations of other creatives?

What else? Places I have visited, people I have met, the people I have yet to meet. And, through the wonders of the Internet, people who I am never likely to meet but have struck up correspondence with through blogs and social sites. Things that have happened to me through the week that have made me smile or made me fume, and everything in between. Nature and all its glories… I could go on and on.

There are of course countless other things that inspire people, but I thought I would just share a few that inspire me on a frequent basis.

I started an inspiration pinboard a while ago beside my desk. I’ve been neglecting it a bit of late – other things get in the way and you don’t make time to nurture your creativity. I think I will get back to filling it up once again.

But, linking back to the posts which started off this train of thinking (slightly), where art and marketing / media is concerned, who inspires who? How much does art inspire marketing, in particular I suppose, advertising, and how much in turn does marketing and the media inspire art? And with user-generated content increasing so rapidly, how much in the future will creatives outside the marketing industry shape the industry?


I think the next stage of evolution in marketing will be very interesting to watch.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Relationship Marketing?

My apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks. I was unfortunately struck down with the dreaded lurgy last week and as a result have been a busy bee since I’ve been back. But back I am. So, what’s been on my mind this week? Something I found in an old textbook from University while searching through for some nice quotes on marketing:

“[T]he computer and modern data processing provide the refinement – the means to treat individuals as individuals rather than parts of a large aggregate… [T]he treatment of individuals as individuals will not be an unmixed blessing. Problems concerning the protection of privacy will be large” (Shubick, 1967)

As the book points out, and I will now do the same, the date above is not a misprint; it was in 1967 that this prediction was made. And since that time, ‘relationship marketing’ has increasingly become data driven. Being able to track individual customers and their buying behaviour, calculating lifetime value and producing personalised marketing communications is now very much a reality for companies, allowing for much more targeted and as a result, effective marketing.

So, everything is great for those conducting this “relationship” marketing, but what about the customer? Later on the same page another quote caught my attention, which I feel sums up where a many of the problems of privacy stem from – the lack of permission in this type of marketing:

“[Relationship marketing… requires a two-way flow of information. This does not mean that the customer has to give you this information willingly, or even knowingly. You can use scanners to capture information, you can gather telephone numbers, conduct surveys, supply warranty cards, and use data overlay from outside databases to combine factors, about lifestyle, demographics, geographics and customer purchases.” (Schultz, Tannenaum and Lauterborn, 1993)

And 14 years on not much has changed.

I’m of course not telling you anything new here. And, I’m clearly focussing on the negative, projecting an image of relationship marketing as a fallacy. This is obviously not the case… well at least not all the time.

I’m not suggesting either that every time you want to use technology to inform and drive your marketing you attain the permission of everyone you are going to target with your message. With the very nature of a great deal of marketing, it would be near impossible to gain permission from everyone you are marketing to. However, if you truly want to conduct proper relationship marketing that is exactly what you should be doing - gaining permission from those you want to market to and building a relationship with them.

Because relationships do need two people actively participating to work. Not a revelation I know, but all the same, I think it's worth pointing out.