Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday fun

A few posts ago I wrote about beautiful Scotland and promised to think up a few slogans for VisitScotland to use in future campaigns. After forgetting all about my promise, then realising that VisitScotland are actually doing a good enough job themselves, I thought I would just have a little fun instead. It is a Friday afternoon after all.

So, here’s a few slogans that they might want to use in future campaigns with the following pictures:

Come to Scotland, there’s Moooooooooo-re to see

John O’ Groats - mainland Britain’s most northerly toilet

The sun always shines in Scotland!
Ok, so I doubt these images and accompanying slogans will draw in the hordes. But hopefully they put a little smile on your face!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

But the keyboard won't fit in my pocket!

Apparently a large number of high school students in Japan graduate without learning how to use a PC. Shocked? I certainly was. Japan, the home of technological innovation. I would have thought that the population would have been banging away on computers since they were toddlers.

So, what’s the trouble? Why in a country such as Japan are they facing this problem? It appears that Internet usage on mobile phones is so common that many younger people in Japan are not using computers anymore.

I can understand it is probably a lot more convenient for them to use their phones to search the web, but what I don’t understand is why they are not using computers during school and for their schoolwork. I did when I was at school and I live in a country which is far behind Japan in technological terms, plus, that was a few years ago now.

The big problem obviously is that students are going into the working world and in many cases that means using computers on a daily basis. And typing with only your thumbs would be fairly difficult I imagine. Fine for a phone, but not for a keyboard.

As I commented on Stan’s blog (where I found this surprising piece of information), perhaps school children in Japan should be given extra computing classes if this is proving to be such a problem. That’s assuming however that they already receive computing lessons. As I am unfamiliar with the Japanese curriculum I do not know whether computing is a part of their core learning. If it is not however, it should be.

Yes, technology is moving at an incredible rate, but computers have been around for many years and don’t look set to be completely replaced any time in the near future. I think it’s time for the kids of Japan to go ‘Old skool’ and embrace the PC once again.


Friday, April 20, 2007

To: Me (1, 10, 20 years on?)

I was catching up with a few of my favourite blogs earlier when I saw an interesting link on Scamp’s blog. It’s for a site called where you can send an e-mail to your future self.

What would I like to say to me in a year’s (or even if I wanted, almost 50 year's) time? Will any of my hopes and goals have been met? Will I forget all about it and get freaked out when I receive a mail from myself that I sent a year ago? I think it’s a definite yes to the last question. But I think I’ll have a little think and send myself and maybe some of my friends something.

Apparently over 393, 000 people have already sent themselves a message through the site and some of the best have been collated for a book which will come out “in the fall”, so Autumn to those of us not in America. The voyeur in me would like to see what other people have written and having read a few of those online I think I will be very touched and amused by what appears in the book. It would also be nice if they let us know whether any of their hopes and dreams have been realised. But since they are anonymous I doubt we'll find out, which is a shame.

But now to decide what to write to myself…


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

“I’m not a plastic bag”

Following on from my last post I am staying on the theme of being environmentally friendly. I was pleasantly surprised a few months ago when I read in Vogue that Anya Hindmarch was bringing out a cotton and recycled plastic bag with the slogan “I’m not a plastic bag” for only £5. To be sold in Sainsbury’s stores from 25th April, as a ‘dedicated follower of fashion’ and someone with an inclination to at least try to be environmentally friendly I was very excited when I read the news. Sad, maybe, but true.

The bag came about when
‘We are what we do’; a movement who “like to inspire people to use their everyday actions to change the world” approached the designer to help them create a product as an alternative to plastic bags. One of their ‘actions’ which they encourage others to follow, in fact their ‘action 01’, is to decline plastic bags wherever possible.

Apparently, every person in the UK uses an average of 167 plastic bags per year. That’s around 10 billion bags altogether. Lying in landfills around the country, each bag can take up to 500 years to degrade, during which time tonnes of methane gas are produced. This methane gas of course contributes to the largest problem of our and future generations’ – global warming.

But of course, as they readily admit, we need something to carry our shopping in, that’s where this idea came from. And teaming up with one of the country’s leading designers was a sure way to get the press and public at large interested and coveting the bag.

All sounding great so far, and I do think it is a great idea. But here comes the sting. After months of publicity in fashion magazines, over the Internet, etc., pre-orders for the bag have already sold out on Anya Hindmmarch’s site and ‘We are what we do’. So, should we all rush down to Sainsbury’s on the 25th then? Well, we could, but a large number of us are going to be very disappointed, as each store will only have 30 bags. And, once they are sold out, they are sold out - “no more bags are being made for the UK market.”

When I read
this on the Sainbury’s website today I was actually quite angry. I feel as if instead of actually wanting to make a difference to the use of plastic bags and offering the fashion conscious a stylish alternative, all this is really about is a publicity stunt. One of the golden rules in marketing is not to create a demand which you cannot then service. But, we’ve seen it time and time again, especially in fashion in recent years, with high street designers teaming up with designers and celebrities to create ranges which cause near-stampedes when they hit the shops and many a disappointed customer. With a measly 30 bags per store I cannot see how this will even nearly satisfy demand. Whether there will be fistfights between fashionistas desperate to purchase the product remains to be seen.

In addition, releasing them for sale at 8am on a Wednesday morning will most likely exclude many a working person from having any hope of getting a bag. Certainly those who do not work near a Sainsbury’s store.

Sainsbury’s are limiting each customer to only one bag. This is presumably to ensure a little fairness and perhaps to try to curb the amount that will appear on e-bay half an hour later priced at an exorbitant amount. But, as a consumer I can’t help but feel very cheated. ‘We are what we do’ promise that “if you still miss out, we have a further consignment of bags arriving this summer in even more limited edition colours.” I don’t think it’s as much a case of ‘if you miss out’ as ‘when you miss out’.

Of course this is not the only alternative to plastic bags available. Each supermarket have alternatives as do many eco-websites and shops. And perhaps the whole point of making these bags a limited edition, as with any limited edition, is to heighten interest in the product (and in this case the issue as a whole) and cause customers to rush out and buy the product NOW. Those who manage to buy one will be able to feel a sense of exclusivity as well as smugness at helping to save the planet just a little.

But what about the rest of us who want one and won’t be able to get one?

Perhaps I sound a little bit like a petulant child now. But if the parties involved are truly committed to the idea of providing a stylish alternative to plastic bags why not offer the product on a permanent basis? I know I’ve gone on a bit of a rant about this, but I don’t believe that by releasing only a limited number of bags they will make the big difference that they claim they want to make. Perhaps they should pay more attention to their ethos - “We are what we do.”

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Stick it to them

While reading The Marketing Blog today I found an article on eco-friendly, wooden USB sticks from a company called Eco Incentives. The company sell these memory sticks as eco-friendly business gifts and as such, they can be personalised with your corporate logo.

I’ve heard of USB sticks being offered as corporate gifts before, in fact, I have received one myself. I can imagine also that in the current climate many companies are trying their best to appear eco-friendly. But ‘wooden memory sticks that have been “manufactured from the windfall branches that have fallen to the forest floor” before having a USB added to them’ is a new one on me. Nice idea though.

As well as these memory sticks, the company also offer mouse mats, organic clothing, jute bags, recycled glassware, biodegradable pens and even bamboo computers. Yes - bamboo computers. Well, not the whole computer, just the monitor, but still pretty impressive.

Switching now from marketer to consumer, I doubt I am the only one who feels a sense of satisfaction and warm glow of ‘doing the right thing’ when I purchase something fair-trade or eco-friendly. I feel as if I am helping, just a little bit, to support and save the planet, I feel as if that little bit extra money I may have spent on the item was justified and is going to a good cause, and most of all, I feel I’m a good person. Being the giver of eco-friendly business gifts, I’m sure I would feel the same. And, as a receiver, it would perhaps lead me to view the giver more favourably, perhaps…

I care about the environment, but I know that I don’t do enough. For example, I use energy-saving lighbulbs, I recycle my old papers and magazines, I re-use plastic bags, I switch things off when I’m not using them (most of the time) and I try to buy ethical products. But, I still take plastic bags when I don’t always need them, I charge my electrical appliances longer than necessary at times, I sometimes buy from companies with less than squeaky-clean images… I could go on. And as a business too, AME Marketing cares about the environment, but again, we don’t do enough.

Sometimes it’s hard to always do the right thing by the environment. Sometimes it’s too expensive. Sometimes we’re just too lazy. But when we can be ethical so easily, we should.

I love the idea of these quirky objects, not only do they come guilt-free, they also stand out. Corporate gifts are often an effective way to keep in the minds of your customers. As with any of your marketing activities though, its important that its relevant to your company / product. If you operate in a B2B environment then this type of gift may work very well. Your customers are likely to use such gifts and each time they do, your name can catch their eye. And, they will know that you are a company who cares. Perfect.

(Note to self: Next week plug our products, not someone else’s…)

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bonny Scotland

I’ve been off on holiday for a little while there. First I had a few days of doing not very much which was nice, then back for a few days, then last week I was off on a road trip up the north of Scotland, which was more than nice, then it was Easter, and now, back to the grind.

Although it’s not very marketing related, I wanted to share a few pictures from my trip. VisitScotland always show the rolling green hills of the highlands in their literature and print advertising, but until last week I did not realise how varied the landscape of my own country was. As I have mentioned before (I think), embarrassingly I have seen a lot more of other countries than I have of my own. I went a little way to put that right last week and plan to see more over the next few years. But, unsurprisingly it took some friends who were not from Scotland to entice me to go explore it.

But, I digress. There was of course plenty of green, but there was also plenty of brown, some beautiful beaches with near-white sand and at many points we could not turn a corner without being confronted with spectacular views and gasping. I’ve yet to get the best pictures off my friend, so you will have to make do with my pictures.

But, I’ll do a bit of plugging for Scotland now; I’d highly recommend a trip around Scotland. The central belt has a lot to offer, but it’s nowhere near as spectacular as the north when it comes to scenery (I’ll plug Glasgow another day).

People often say that Scotland would be paradise if it were in a sunnier climate. We were lucky enough to get sunshine (but not the warmth) on our travels, but we also got a little rain. If you ask me, it wouldn’t have been the same without a bit of rain. That’s all part of our charm. Along with our lovely inhabitants of course!
On the first night we couldn’t find anywhere to stay, we hadn’t planned too far in advance, and one B&B owner we phoned was so helpful that he gave us some other numbers to try and his name to drop when we did so, and, asked us to phone back if we had no luck and he would find other places for us to try. Sometimes I love my country.

So, come on, visit Scotland! If I haven’t convinced you, maybe some more of my photos will.

What you probably expect to see

What you might not

The beautiful Dunrobin Castle

The coast near Wick


Sunny skies

The view out Ardvreck Castle

The Sunderland landscape

Or maybe i'll try to think up a few different angles for future campaigns in case this lot hasn't yet enticed you. Stayed tuned!