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Chasing Daylight

Date post: 18-Sep-2014
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The first presentation I wrote on the subject. We seek to create not just work that earns pay, but meaning in what we do. Somewhere down the line, we realize that this is what advertising and brands should be about, too. Creating meaning, enabling people do things in life, making people aspire to the highest goals and showing them how to achieve it.
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what is the new normal?Culture is always in flux. There’s a constant back-forth. Everything culture is, everything the pillars of cultural transmission (oral / visual – media formats) respond to, are all part of a dialectic which, while it may not always follow structure, always makes perfect sense.

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“Turning and turning into the widening gyrethe falcon cannot hear the falconer.Things fall apart, the center cannot holdmere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”- The Second Coming, W.B. Yeats

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“So, you want to get in touch with your spiritual center.”“Yes, I’d like my frequency turned up; the ability to levitate, translocate, dematerialize, and sufficient omniscience to divine in advance the randomly selected numerals that comprise the New York State Lottery.”

“What do you do for a living?” she inquired, oddly un-omniscient for a creature of her reputed majesty.

“Night watchman at a wax museum,” I replied, “but it’s not as fulfilling as it sounds.”

- Mere Anarchy, Woody Allen

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1950 2010

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the new normal is mere anarchy• Or the break-down in “mere anarchy” that you saw, from Yeats’

example to Woody Allen. From the biblical good vs. evil, you have also the watchman at the wax museum with the mundane life. The two types existed back in Yates’ time too; just that there was only one channel of transmission, and it chose to take the high ground.

• Today, the fragmentation of the media, and the empowerment of the crowd with tools like twitter, facebook and the broader world-wide-web has reduced the global narrative to just one of the narratives, rather than the arch-narrative, the meta-narrative. It doesn’t mean that core truths and meta-narratives are dead – just that they’re harder to find, and harder to tap.

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chasing daylight

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Chasing Daylight is the title of a book written by Eugene O’Kelly, then CEO of accounting giant KPMG. So tied up with work, he lunched with his wife just twice on a weekday, over a decade. At the age of 53, at the peak of his career, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and that he had maybe three months more to live. True to his CEO style, he wrote down a list of people to meet, things to do, and to have as many “perfect moments” in his life.

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at the precipiceSomewhere, the World has begun to reflect and channel Eugene as a collective whole. Sure achievement matters a lot, to a lot of people – myself included. But there’s more now. We seek to create not just work that earns pay, but meaning in what we do. Somewhere down the line, we realize that this is what advertising and brands should be about, too. Creating meaning, enabling people do things in life, making people aspire to the highest goals and showing them how to achieve it.

Advertising has always been about promoting consumerism, but today with the World Wide Web, and informed and discerned consumers, we need to move to a consumerism with conscience.

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at the precipiceReflect• Be (different)• Be (something)• Be (all you can be)• Do (different)• Do (something)• Do (all you can do)Become

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an inkling of truth

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an inkling of truth Every piece of communication a brand puts out needs to have its distinct truth. We can call this brand identity, brand positioning, brand myth, value offering, and so on. The better you align what your brand stands for to what your customer expects; the better you elevate this standing in the customer’s mind, the stronger your brand becomes.

They say your positioning isn’t what you say it is, but what your customers perceive you as. Well, your customers can only believe what they can see, touch, feel, taste; what they can believe in. They will only participate to elevate your brand’s positioning if they see truth in it, if this truth enables them to find that positioning within themselves.

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playing the right tune

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playing the right tune

The following is a set of 6 cases where the use of the internet has been distinct and truthful, or maybe distinctly truthful, and hence elevated the positioning of the brand.

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BMW / The Hire, 2001• The first great online campaign. The Hire produced a total of 8 films, from world-

class directors such as Wong kar-Wai, John Woo, Ang Lee, Guy Ritchie and Tony Scott. All were distributed online. Not counting parallel views on Youtube and other online networks, the films had a total of 11 million views within 4 months of launch – this was 2001, remember – no youtube, no twitter, no facebook, no flickr. Videos that were downloaded / buffered were well over 200MB each in file size. 2 million people registered on the BMW site to receive notifications, and BMW sales had risen some 12% within 6 months of these films being launched.

• As a thought experiment, what can you do if you were doing a brand promotion like this today? You need to portray attitude and sell the brand promise in the four seconds it takes for the BMW to get to 60mph. What could twitter have done for this campaign? Or facebook?

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Halo 3 / Believe, 2007• Halo 3 became the BIGGEST entertainment-related launch in history (we say entertainment-related launch, because it beat

out Spiderman’s opening weekend record with some $170 million in 24 hours versus Spiderman 3’s $151 million in 4 days.

• According to Bungie, the makers of Halo, the first 24 hours also saw 4.9 multiplayer games (on Xbox Live) and about 500 million kills.

• Games were always great for telling a story. Kids would get online to exchange cheat codes and tips and tricks for where to find Easter Eggs the game-makers may have hidden in gameplay.

• Games like Halo have taken this to the next level, building in many levels of teasers into the launch campaign, elevating the game to an experience – almost like duty. The launch campaign was featured around the John 117 monument, dedicated to the soldiers (and the protagonist, Master Chief) who lost their lives fighting the evil Covenant, giving mankind hope for a better tomorrow. They created a War Museum dedicated to this, and “interviewed” soldiers who fought in the battle and “knew” Master Chief. One might wonder if Halo also evoked feelings of brotherhood (or sisterhood) and patriotism amongst players.

• Halo 3 ODST, the prequel to Halo 3 has generated a lot of buzz similarly, with its “Prepare to Drop” campaign. Scaling the game’s message across Social Media could make Halo Microsoft’s most valuable asset, next to Windows and Office.

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Apple / I’m a Mac, 2006-present• Apple started the Get-a-mac ads back in 2006. Since then, they have

gained from about 3% market share to about 10% worldwide. They also have a whopping 70% marketshare in all computers sold, valued at over $1000 – i.e. medium to high-end computers. The Apple ads do what the previous two have done very well. Capture the essence of what the brand stands for – its truth – and build it up into a story to inspire, believe and adore.

• Using just youtube statistics, the Get a Mac ads have on average over a million views each (there are some 40 Get a Mac ads). This doesn’t include Apple’s official site view count, and that on other social media and video sites. That is by definition a highly successful viral – or – 40 of them.

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Burger King / Whopper Sacrifice, 2009

• It starts with a simple question – You may like your friends, but do you like the Whopper more?

• Burger King has built up a myth of being a dynamic and fun brand over the past few years, with last year’s Whopper Freakout and this year’s Whopper Sacrifice, Whopper Flame, and Whopper Virgins campaigns. With Whopper Sacrifice, Burger King had 200,000+ friends sacrificed in a week and 35 million free media impressions before Facebook asked Burger King to shut down the application. Mean, maybe, but highly effective.

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T-Mobile / Dance, 2008• On 15th January, 2009 at 11am, a single commuter started dancing in the

middle of a train station. The dance grew as more dancers joined in, until there were over 300 people perfectly choreographed. The excitement caused hundred’s of genuine unsuspecting members of the public to join in and share the moment.

• The results for the campaign speak for themselves, with T-Mobile experiencing record footfall following the start of the campaign and ‘Dance’ now having had over 15 million hits on the ‘Life’s for Sharing’ Youtube Channel. Wanting to sell more premium subscriptions, T-Mobile saw a 20% rise in the months following the campaign.

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Sagami / Love Distance, 2009• Sagami is a contraceptive manufacturer in Japan. They wanted to create

buzz around a new condom they had developed, the world’s thinnest. It is still taboo to talk about sex in Japan, so Sagami attempted to build a grander story around this, the theme being “Love needs distance”.

• As the case study will show you, they for a while isolated the male and female viewing experiences during the journey, only to reveal the brand and product when the separated lovers finally meet, having traversed 500km each to their common destination. A website that with a “real” story, generates user participation and media buzz, and finally translates to a mass media campaign. Not quite Durex, but probably more effective, in any culture.

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codification and use

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codification and use

So there you have seen six examples, old and new, of what makes great campaigns. These aren’t the only good campaigns, or exclusively the best ever. But they all succeeded in their goals – communicate the brand truth, get people to relate, and to share the material. What do YOU see that’s similar among these campaigns? What’s different? What could you have done differently?

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essenceBrand Truth Be something

Inspire something Enable something

Media portability

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channels of communicationWebsite Brand / Product

micrositeTelevision Print

Outdoor Ambient Direct Mail Events

On-ground activation Customer Service Storefront Packaging

Product / Service content Radio

Campaign microsite facebook + twitter + myspace

Youtube + online video

last.fm / blip.fm / other internet radio

Create, encourage, participate in online forums

Ensure creative portability (share-on-facebook/twitter)

Long tail Fan Club Desktop Widgets Web Widgets / Apps

iPhone / smartphone Encourage local communities

Email / EDM Banner Ads