Archive for the ‘General marketing’ Category

A sort of fairytale

April 30, 2011

The Royal wedding on the big screen
As I was scanning the tweets on TweetDeck last night, an update from Brian Clark (aka Copyblogger) stood out for me. It said:

“Why did we care about the royal wedding? Because we care about stories. We need fairy tales to come true, even if to others”.

And Brian is absolutely right.

Despite my natural inclination to consider the more cynical angle of any ‘feel-good’ event, I thought the royal wedding was a spectacular celebration, not only enjoyed by millions in the UK, but by billions across the globe. OK, I’m sure the money could have been spent better elsewhere and for some the royal family are not an accurate representation of modern British society, but who cares. With morale at a low across the country (and other parts of the the developing world) and wars kicking off left, right and centre, it was refreshing to put all that aside for one day and take in the fantastic pomp and pageantry that only the British can do with such majesty.

Unsurprisingly, the Americans really got into the spirit of the royal wedding, which is no great surprise. After all, the USA is a country whose national ethos is the ‘American Dream’, an ideal that proclaims that all men are equal and that anyone can do anything. A fairy tale, if you like, that anyone can buy into and aspire to achieve.

Stories are extremely powerful and can be used by anyone, including companies and brands, to differentiate themselves and capture peoples’ imaginations. They’re a way of creating a narrative and a connection that stays with people and leaves a lasting impression.

So what’s your story? If you’ve got one, get out there and tell the world. It might just make a difference.


Are you an Online Wizard or a Chief Storyteller?

February 3, 2011

Earlier today I was flicking through the job ads in the latest edition of Marketing Week and I came across a double page spread for some vacancies at a company called Ovo Energy. I was initially attracted to the ad because of it’s use of big, bold fonts and the colourful cartoon drawings (also in evidence on their website), but when I looked more closely I then noticed the job titles they were advertising for: Marketing & Business Guru, Chief Storyteller and Online Wizard.

I have to admit, it was a breath of fresh air to see these job titles! Whenever you see ads for marketing vacancies, they’re usually for a Web Developer, a Marketing Executive, a PR Manager and so on. They all tend to merge into one big blur and along with the standard job ad format (job title, corporate logo, job spec and contact details all in a dingy little box) I often find it difficult to tell one company from the next. Where is the company’s character? What do they stand for? Will I fit in to the company? It might be a cliché, but looking for a job is a two way process and first impressions from both job seekers and recruiting companies count for an awful lot. Why not start with the job ad itself?

But returning to the job titles – wouldn’t it be cool to ‘legitimately’ call yourself a Marketing & Business Guru or a Chief Storyteller? Imagine announcing to your friends that you’re now somebody’s Online Wizard! I really like the way Ovo Energy have purposefully set out to express their character and culture throughout their marketing communications  – and their job ads – and made a conscious effort to stand out from the crowd. The language, tone of voice and graphic design used in the job ads mirror that used throughout the website and gives you a very clear impression of the company. And the job titles are another extension of the company’s personality.

Now that Ovo Energy have caught my attention I’ll be looking out for them for now on to see how the brand develops – as well as what other job titles they might advertise!

What’s the wakiest job titles  you’ve seen? Do you have a interesting job title yourself?

Good marketing + great content = success

January 25, 2011

I recently watched ‘The King’s Speech’ at my local independent cinema and walked away feeling very happy. The film was wonderful! It was brilliantly performed, very well directed and beautifully shot, capturing the atmosphere and the feel of England in the 1920’s & 30’s perfectly.

But I can’t help but feel that without the promotional backing from its makers the film might not have gained the same success it is currently finding during the early part of the awards season. ‘The King’s Speech’ is an exceptionally accomplished film, and yet it is not your conventional ‘Hollywood blockbuster’. I’ve seen many other British, indie-inspired films struggle – particularly in the multiplexes – when they’ve gone head-to-head with big name, star-driven US movies. But ‘The Kings Speech’ has proved to be a big hit – both in Britain and abroad.

First of all, it’s worth briefly looking at some of the tactics the studios used to promote ‘The King’s Speech’:


I first heard positive murmurings about ‘The King’s Speech’ back in the autumn as the film was gaining plaudits at film festivals both in the UK and overseas. The film continued to gain a lot of exposure on movie podcasts, television and in the press over the last few months with positive word-of-mouth being fully exploited. A lot of buzz was generated as a result of Colin Firth’s excellent performance as well as the story behind the film itself (the writer of the original stage play suffered a stammer).


As with all modern movie posters nowadays,  the poster wasn’t particularly imaginative but got the main points across – clear photos of the lead actors, strapline and clear typography. The absence of critical endorsements was slightly puzzling as a British historical drama isn’t a money-making guarantee (in comparison to aliens or slap-stick comedy, for example).


There wasn’t a great deal of online promotion. The film’s official website is pretty basic and there wasn’t an official Facebook or Twitter presence to promote the movie. Instead, ‘The King’s Speech’ was promoted through the studio’s page and feeds.


Although not particularly inventive, the film’s trailers demonstrated both the funny and serious aspects of the film and clearly showcases the wonderful performances from all the lead actors. The trailer does its job – sums up the best parts of the movie and builds anticipation on the back of the positive word-of-mouth that has already been generated.

Overall, the marketing campaign for ‘The King’s Speech’ was solid, if unremarkable. However, the campaign successfully raised awareness and made great use of the positive word-of-mouth that followed the film’s earlier showings at film festivals.  Even so, the marketers job was made a lot easier because the product was so good. Marketing is key, and without it the film would have surely floundered. But ‘The King’s Speech’ would not have been the success story it currently is without being a truly great film. Regardless of the promotion and the amount of ‘noise’ created, without great content the attention will only last so long. Good marketing builds interest – but you need a great product to really make it count in the long-term.

This can be applied to anything – blog posts, magazines, theatre or sport. If the content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll be found wanting. You can only blag it for so long!

I would like to say ‘thank you’ to Chris Thilk, who’s blog post on ‘The King’s Speech’ provided inspiration and information for my blog post.

2011 beckons!

December 31, 2010

Well, 2010 has certainly been a topsy turvy year. Although we’re no longer in a ‘recession’ in Britain, the affects are hitting the country hard, with unemployment, slow economic growth and increasing job insecurity for many people, especially the public sector. The coalition government has made a number of cuts (and are probably planning more) and the jury’s out as to what 2011 will hold.

Nevertheless, it’s important to look ahead in as positive way as possible. As a marketer, I’ve been really excited to see the growth in social media over the past year. Amongst many other things, Twitter has continued it’s meteoric rise, Facebook registered a whopping 500 million ‘friends’ and the number of blogs being created around the world has continued to grow rapidly. It will be great to see how social media continues to develop next year. I’m confident that social media will become an increasingly important feature within companies’ marketing departments and we’ll see more and more social media led campaigns – both online and offline.

I try not to make New Year’s resolutions anymore. I think they’re pretty much a waste of time. My philosophy is that if you’re going to make a change, just do it. You don’t need to wait until the beginning of a year to make a fresh start.  However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having realistic goals set for a New Year so you can work towards achievements during the year. I’ve got a number of personal goals in mind (although I haven’t been organised enough to wirte them all down yet!).

I often find the end of a year quite sad because it comes and goes so quickly.  But it will be great to usher in a new year and make the most of it. The possibilities are endless and I hope everyone has a happy, fun and prosperous 2011.

Cool logos

December 12, 2010

This week I took the time to admire some very cool logos.

Although a logo is just one element of many that make up a brand, an artistic, creative and thought-provoking logo can be very inspiring.

The logo above really captured my imagination. The design is extremely clever, using a very simple concept that explains exactly what the compnay is about – horror (the picture could be of someone screaming or person in a hockey mask) and films (or the picture could be of a simple film reel) and a plain black background. Simplicity here is what makes this logo work so well.

When designing a logo there are a number of rules to consider and I believe the Horror Films logo (as well as many other better known companies such as Twitter) follows many of these rules. However, for me (as a design layman!) a great logo simply needs to have the ‘wow factor’ to get my attention.

Marketing is about a lot more than pretty pictures. But when you see pictures as pretty as these you can’t help but sit back and admire!

Do you have any cool logo designs you’d like to share?

Imagination holds the key

November 21, 2010

I saw a really interesting story this week about how the best-selling author Nick Hornby is setting up a series of workshops know as ‘The Ministry of Stories’. The Ministry of Stories will be funded by the Arts Council and will involve a number of famous authors, including Zadie Smith and Roddy Doyle, teaching children from the age of eight how to inject flair and imagination into storytelling. The scheme’s aim is to help encourage and inspire “a nation of storytellers”.

I think this is a fantastic idea and a news story that really grabbed my attention. Children have such wonderful imaginations and by encouraging them to write stories, songs, poems and blogs with the help of some brilliant literary figures will be a very interesting experiment.

It’s great to think that the children who benefit from The Ministry of Stories might one day go on to be involved in the literary world themselves.  However, they could just as easily go on and make a name for themselves in the business and marketing worlds, too.

Storytelling is a very powerful tool, particularly in marketing, and there are a vast array of books on the subject. Many marketing experts, including Mitch Joel, Seth Godin and Tom Peters have talked about how companies and brands that tell great stories are those that are more likely to be successful. Human beings have told tales for thousands of years (consider the cave paintings going back as far as 100,000 years!) because humans love to hear interesting, exciting, moving, scary or sad stories. We can relate to stories and connect with the people and situations in them because people love to know about people.

In business, stories can be used to illustrate the value of you and your product, and if told correctly, can help a business to earn trust and credibility in an increasingly sceptical society. But the stories must be subtle, appeal to people’s emotions and be aimed at a specific audience. If a story is too broad and aimed at ‘everyone’, then it will become diluted and a lot less effective.

Storytelling in business is a great way of differentiating yourself from your competitors by using innovative ways of  capturing the public’s imagination. It’s not about insincerity, but about getting your company’s message out there in a way that connects with the target audience.

The bright young minds who will benefit from The Ministry of Stories could certainly play their part in companies’ storytelling in the years ahead, that is if they decide to go on to be a marketer as opposed to a literary great! Either way, I hope the Ministry of Stories is a huge success and inspires children and young adults to open their minds and produce brilliant storytelling, whether it be factual or fictional.