Spread the anger around!

18 Feb
February 18, 2009
If you had to name one successful viral campaign that had made an impression on you in the past 5 years. Which would be your favourite? For me, it definitely has to be the Subservient Chicken by our friends from BK. The campaign was launched in 2004 to promote its tendercrisp. And the simple idea produced astonishing results, entertaining millions around the globe. Especially the office workers who just wishes their boss will become that chicken in the video.

Burger King then launched a very successful “Whopper Sacrifice” in 2008, a campaign tapping on the power of networking on facebook. And the new member of their viral campaigns is the SEND AN ANGRY GRAM that has just been launched this year, to promote their Angry Whopper. This is a pretty fun campaign that allows you to send really angry words to your friends and whosoever.

Playing with taboo almost always mean success (Refer to Mark Hughes’s book, BuzzMarketing). And BK recognises that.

Emarketer recently interviewed the man behind the success of these campaign, Jeff Benjamin. So here’s Jeff sharing his thoughts on viral with you.

Creating a Whopper of a Viral Campaign FEBRUARY 13, 2009
Jeff Benjamin, Vice President and Executive Creative Director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Jeff Benjamin, the award-winning creator of online viral campaigns such as the “Subservient Chicken” and the recent “Whopper Sacrifice” for Burger King, spoke to eMarketer about how to think virally.

eMarketer: The Crispin Porter + Bogusky employee handbook goes into the agency’s philosophy. One point is, “Keep money in context.” What does that mean?

Jeff Benjamin: There are a lot of people wasting money on the online space, and then there are a lot of people using their money really effectively.

We try and find spots where it’s not just about buying impressions—it’s about creating something that makes people create the impressions for you for free. People can do the advertising for you if you give them the inspiration and the tools.

That was the case with the “Whopper Sacrifice” application [a recent campaign for Burger King]. We did do a little bit of a media buy on Facebook, but ultimately it was all about people putting it on their page and creating impressions and sacrificing friends. You’re getting more bang for your buck at the end of the day.

eMarketer: What are some misconceptions about viral marketing?

Jeff Benjamin: One big one is that in order to be provocative and get a lot of buzz, you can’t be true to your brand. I think a lot of brands make that mistake. They try to become something else just for the sake of being viral and making something sticky.

You always have to make sure those things belong to your brand. Otherwise, I don’t think it’ll work and people won’t remember you for it. It won’t do anything to further the brand.

People go into brainstorming viral, and you can’t go into it with that intention. What you can go into it with, though, is the idea of making a great ad. If you do make a great ad, people will talk about it. The viral part will sort of be a consequence.

But a lot of times, clients will come to us like, “Hey, we want something viral.” That’s not very inspiring, because that doesn’t really give any insight into what the ad really is.

Ultimately, we want to create great ads that are going to do great things for the client. If we do our job right, the consequence of that will be something that gets passed around and talked about.

Even before the Internet, viral advertising always existed. It’s just changed its form. What’s been effective over the years keeps evolving. Like right now, I don’t think viral is creating something terribly subversive or anything. I think it’s about utility and tools that make our lives better or easier.

— Interview from eMarketer

The Great Expectations

02 Feb
February 2, 2009
We’ve heard it perhaps a thousand times, since the beginning of the credit crunch. In any case, this is actually a familiar word somebody must have told us at some point of our lifes. The keyword is… Managing Expectations.

This is however more relevant in times today where people are losing their jobs by the minute, if not second. There is an estimation of 6 million unemployment in China, 8% in USA and on our sunny isle of Singapore, a 3% high. No one has the answer to when this tsunami may end. Finland’s government has collapsed. Hence it is far more important for us today, to be able to manage expectations. Expectations of our life, of our job and our desires.
If man was ruled by needs and not wants, if greed was replaced by gratefulness, the world will not see itself being washed into these great big waves, a deja vu of the Great Depression, where Karl Marx once observed that history will repeat itself. As he said, the first time was a tragedy, the second is a farce.
I ran my own food business for a short period of 4 years. And as an employer, I made a very interesting observation. In contrary to common beliefs, I realised that age nor qualification is an obstacle to getting the desired job. Usually the people who manage to get a job, always gets a job, no matter how many times they have job-hopped. And the people who fail in getting a job, will never get their hands on that ideal job. It is all a matter of attitude and managing of expectations. As they all say, to change your life, first change your mind.
There are always similar traits in people who carry a positive attitude. They are polite, full of smiles, able to express themselves well, sincere and eager to contribute. The people who tend to fail in an interview are usually self-absorbed, mr-know-it-all, mr-know-how, rude or it may seem to pain them to say an additional word when questioned. They are almost too eager to ask what the company can provide than to ask themselves how they can add-value to the organisation. Usually, I like to judge my first impression of people from a handshake and if they will put the chair back. I think it tells alot about a person, about his/her attitude , upbringing and interest. A firm handshake and putting the chair back in its original position lightly will definitely get in my good books quite immediately.
Returning to the topic of managing expectations. There are alot of adjustments to make and it’s all in the head. Firstly, don’t expect the same salary and job comfort. There will definitely be alot of intensity and adjustments in salaries. Especially for fresh grads waiting to embark on an exciting career, I’m sorry to say it may not sound too exciting afterall. For the mid-career change, who has just got retrenched or terminated, it may not be easy to find a job in the same capacity in this period. Take the best use of this time to upgrade skills and get yourself intouch with the industry. Opportunities are only for those who are prepared for it. Hence, make sure you are always prepared, always on your toes. When the economy rebounce, you don’t want to be caught left behind.
Manage expectations in your lifestyle. Man has always been in a neverending pursuit for luxury and material wants. In unforeseen weathers like this, cash is king. Keep that dollar for a rainy day use, be very very careful with spending on credit (actually, don’t even try), manage and plan loans with delicate care and read investment products thoroughly to understand your risks before attempting to outwit the market. Understand that you may not be dining out as often, cut down on that monthly shopping spree and perhaps trade in your BMW for a Toyota.
Be grateful about the things you have in your life and not the things you seem to be losing. In actual fact, we lost nothing. We had nothing to start from anyway. If we all rule our lifes with our needs and not wants, we will see a lighter side of life.

Welcome, the real era of Social Media Marketing

29 Jan
January 29, 2009
I have been spending quite some quality time on twitter and reading useful blogs of others. As I am writing, I am still continuously trying to figure out what may be the correct focus to direct this post.
Social media has always been a very skeptical form of marketing for alot of traditional marketeers as there is no clear ROI or statistics which can be provided as a base for business. Especially in the context of Asia, where almost everything must be “seen” or “touch” to “believe”. However, this may all change with evolution of statistical tools on individual social networking platforms and most of all, the recent launch of Buzz Gain. If you need to get excited over something, then this must be it!

Currently in Beta stage (Free for limited period), Buzz Gain is a really simple web-based client that allows you to track over 100 social networking sites and search your keyword on blogs, microblogs etc. This allows a complete consolidation of data, including listening to all the important conversations about your product or business all in one site. Learn about who you should be tracking or following. And at the click of a button, analyze your demographics as graphs are created automatically to explain trends! Now you know WHO is looking and talking about you, WHO you should be talking to and WHAT are the results or outcome of the conversations. Finally a one-stop and affordable solution to all Social PR headaches.
Although I wouldn’t say the program is perfect just yet. Afterall, it is still in beta launch. One of the biggest turnoff is its speed. The program would have been close to a wonder if it loaded up nicely and promptly too. The beta version may be showing signs of lagging and delayed information. More insights of analysis and information can also be developed, hopefully at a later point of time. But at the very least, if you have no idea where start on your social PR, now here’s a useful assistant.

The service would probably have very large potential in Asia also, especially in China. With latest stats by Internet World Stats, China’s internet population leads the world with approximately 253 million internet users end December 2008. And we are looking at a merely 19% penetration of its entire billion population. Imagine how much this service could potentially do for clients wanting to enter the dragon’s gate? There are over 578 million internet users in Asia alone (versus 885 million in the rest of the world), where rising markets like India only has a 5.2% internet penetration currently. (Statistics are quoted from Internet World Stats) With the consumer market so saturated in Europe and America, brands and businesses are quick eyeing on the big piece of cake in the less-than developed far east.

However, Asia’s consumer behavior and internet trends may differ with those from the West, with their own specialised and isolated platforms (such as qq.com in China). And these are usually quite contained within their own communities. Hence services such as BuzzGain will need to obtain a better and more thorough understanding of the system to efficiently get it right. Even as a fellow Chinese, I’m finding it tough to keep up with the lighting speed trends of the China market. Their growth is tremendous and they are quick in developing tools that match those of the West. Moreover, the web structure in the east is not as organized and there are alot of “noise” to filter before actual contents and conversations can be read and analyzed. Hence adequate time will need to be invested to study the market in detail.

In the meantime, I would like to give a pat on the shoulder of the BuzzGain team. If you haven’t signed up for a demo, do so today. You’d be pleasantly surprised at the convenience it provides. And if you have a word to say to BuzzGain, feedback on how you think it could help you better, or just thank them for the wonderful innovation, give a BUZZ to @mukund on twitter. The fine man will be more than pleased to hear from you.

The screwed banks.

21 Jan
January 21, 2009
No, I really don’t mean to be rude, nor has this posting has anything directly involved with marketing either. I am simply personally fustrated with the OCBC bank of Singapore. I wouldn’t say they have a bad service because the telephone operators have been rather patient with me. But I’m just wondering what’s wrong inside?

The bank sent me a letter to inform me of some pending documents they need from me to facilitate a certain application. So, I walked in personally to a bank to verify the documents and submitted it on the spot, with the copy of the letter the bank sent me. The bank staff even took the letter from me as a reference. About 3 days later, I received an SMS on my phone to inform me the documents have been received and my application status will be informed via mail. So I assumed it is all in processing.

Just yesterday, I received ANOTHER letter to “remind” me to submit the “pending documents”, WHICH I already did more than a week ago! (maybe 2 weeks) I was baffled. So I called the call centre for assistance. And they said they’ll check. They called me back again today to tell me the relevant department has yet to receive my documents.

Hence, why did I recieve the text message? And why did I walk-in to the bank personally in the first place if it is redundant? And why would there be conflicting information from the same department in the same bank?

Did the recession drove the banks into turmoils and so the office is covered with flying papers everywhere? I don’t know… but OCBC had better look into its internal process.

AND another comment to ALL banks… please save your papers. You could potentially cut ALOT of cost from that. Why keep sending reminder letters in this era of technology? Do consider practicing some form of environmental friendly policies.

The strong waves of 2009

02 Jan
January 2, 2009
Happy New Year folks! It’s 2nd January 2009. I have to start practicing writing the right date. I tend to waste too many cheques in the first month of every year.
Today didn’t exactly start off on a fantastic note, when I had to give my intern a ticking as she was absolutely not paying attention to what she was doing. (it’s only a minutes for goodness sake, and I had to make her change it 4 times!) But let’s leave her to make the final changes for now.

Many people have told me, 2009 will come in a fiery big tsunami wave. It will sweep away anything that is in its way. The worse has yet to arrive, that’s what I’m hearing. Our Prime Minister made his traditional New Year speech yesterday indicating a forecasted -2.0 growth for Singapore in 2009. The annual budget has been pushed forth to January, hoping policies will aid individuals and companies to tide these fiery storms earlier. It hasn’t quite hit me directly yet, but from the look of it, it ain’t going to give a warning when it strikes. I am not an economic expert and I can’t tell you anything new from this post. Which I bet you haven’t heard anything new for a long time from anyone else either, that is.

Despite the crisis, it definitely isn’t the first time the human race has been hit hard. This can’t be tougher to survive than the world wars nor the Great Depression back in the 30s. Somehow, human are rare creatures whom can find and create opportunities in all situations. Even animals find their own way into survival.

The future holds a future in itself. So let’s anticipate an optimistic 2009 and may we brave the storms like warriors together!

Bridging blogs & advertisers.

30 Dec
December 30, 2008
Consumers used to be only on the receiving end, taking in whatever information advertisers wants to let out. But online media has opened a new path that allows consumers to be the source of information, to judge and decide what to say. We call this people, bloggers.
I stumbled upon http://blog2u.sg/ today, and out of interest, signed up as a member. However, I am rather skeptical about the system that goes in there. I would say there’s both sides of the coin to this portal. What it does, is that it links bloggers and advertisers together. The advertiser will have to pay (in monetary of course) to put a banner ad, a sponsored post or a sponsored review on the blogger’s site. It can also come in the form of an invitation to a product launch, event or link to partner’s sites etc.

Somehow, I’m just thinking, is this the best and most appropriate method to execute social PR? The primary objective of reaching target audience through social PR is to bypass advertising. But isn’t “banner ad” or a “sponsored post”, simply just advertising end of the day? And “paying” someone to write something simply won’t give you an honest posting. Hence, that defies the evolution of social media and its realiability in the long term.

PR is all about building relationships. The relationship should be transparent, honest and sincere. When identifying suitable bloggers to talk about a product, we should first be sure that these are trustworthy people who are not simply living off posted advertisements. And who are the people reading the blogs? Does the product simply want mass awareness? Or targeted awareness? We should remember that no one medium can reach out to everyone. This is especially evident on the internet, where freedom of choice rules the cyberworld. Hence, we should take into consideration power of multiplication. Is this target group we have chosen the best people to spread the word? How many tiers can it lead to? Which is more effective? Selling the technical specification of a product/event or selling the experience of a product/event?
I think http://blog2u.sg/ will be useful for many direct advertisers, who wish to save the dollars from a good digital PR agency. But I would still suggest, the internet has a long memory. Campaigns and good word can go a long way if the appropriate method is being explored by professionals. A hundred thousand dollars is money well-spent if objectives are met. But a dollar spent could be a dollar too much if it does not work at all.

Of course, I am not indicating that this site does not work. It probably does to a certain extend. Most of those bloggers link their posts to twitter and facebook and plurk etc. So there’s still some form of extension there. However, do also remember it’s probably the same people, the same links on all these different platforms.
Ask around your office, how many people (who are non-avid bloggers) uses twitter and plurk? Or even digsby? As far as I am concern, I only know of one other person who does apart from me.

Who’s reading?

30 Dec
December 30, 2008
There’ll always be a neverending debate on who’s reading what on the internet. Tell a client to use twitter as a marketing tool and they will response with a bang on the table as they give their money to a newspaper instead. True, it is hard to determine the returns, the risks and you can’t really control your demographics. But for goodness sake, I wonder who invented technology, it is capable of anything.

Found this blog from Guy Kawasaki’s tweets. The Brand Builder, written by Olivier Blanchard. It’s enjoyable to realise the wealth of knowledge one can find from these folks if you really take time to read them.
There’s a new article on social media stats and demos for 2008. It’s interesting to see who ranks the top 40 tweetcities in the world and at what a rate this tool is growing intensively. I can’t find Singapore on the list though, for plenty of reasons. One, we have a population too small, two we don’t exactly have a tweeting population. We are just too small for comfort.

Digital marketing is not likely to take off in Singapore or Hong Kong in a big way because people are sitting too close to each other. There are many modes of communications and traditional media still ranks the most popular way to reach out to target audience. Well, I have to admit even for me, I still read newspapers and watch the TV. Digital marketing takes up only 3% of the total media spending in 2007. Where about 1.6million people are online everyday on this island. The newspaper only circulates about 250,000. So that doesn’t really reaches a population of 4 million, does it. (Please refer to digital media report in my earlier posts). However, due to managable distance from home to town, people usually stay out instead of staying in. Hence outdoor media is the one channel that has been growing increasing popular in the past few years. More creative means are being explored from billboards to installations. Government rules have laxed to allow more room for advertising on public property.

However, that also means trying to get attention becomes harder. Many a times, marketeers tend to be successful in executing the “eye-catching” element but may not necesarily be achieving the objective on the movement, whatever that may be. Of course, clients should be realistic about the targets and how will the marketing effort translate into it. No matter it’s sales or awareness. As I am religiously repeating, pick the right channels to the right people.

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

23 Dec
December 23, 2008

Hill & Knowlton and me

20 Dec
December 20, 2008
I am subscribed to Social Media Today although I admit I don’t read it very religiously unless something interesting catches my eye. Well, something did today. The blogger of the week featured Mr. Niall Cook, who is Worldwide Director of Marketing Technology in Hill & Knowlton. I don’t know Mr. Cook. But H&K caught my eye.

Sometime not too long ago, earlier this year, I was offered an interview opportunity with H&K. And although the result was negative, but this series of interviews were one of the most valuable lessons in my life. I had the pleasure of meeting the Managing Director of H&K China in Singapore. And I flew to both Beijing and Shanghai to meet with 13 business directors in all. I was also fortunate enough to be invited to an internal workshop on digital PR. The entire process opened a new perspective and worldview for me. It was quite an exciting and mind-blowing process. Although I’ve always knew PR is a niche by itself, but only then did I began to understand how in depth and what kind of expertise is required to be a successful PR person. It is all a very different ballgame from where I came from. And although the interviews lasted almost 3 months (it continued when I returned Singapore) but I must say it was a time and money well-spent. I couldn’t explain how rewarding it was, but I sincerely appreciated the opportunity.

H&K is somewhat very different from some other PR companies I know. I have friends who work for renown PR firms in Singapore and although I don’t know much about PR but the values they hold are very different. H&K has very strong integrity about their business and they strongly encourage their clients to anticipate and practice the same transparency. They also understands the importance of constant innovation and finding a new niche in PR with the everchanging technologies. And that the lines between advertising, marketing and PR are constantly getting blured and it no longer is about “traditional” or “digital” anymore. It is essential that each is integrated into one another to provide a complete solution for businesses. Every business director has a clear idea on the kind of team they want to groom and the vision of the company is very clear. Which is something I value alot because I find it impossible to contribute too much to a company I can’t seem to see the vision. Getting lost is simple in a mundane office life. Vision, values and positive culture in a company are some of the things I consider the most important when seeking a potential employment.

Someday, I still look forward to be a part of H&K. I think there is a wealth of knowledge and new worldview for me to apprehend from there. It is an organisation I will want to work for.

And here’s to share with everyone, the blog of Mr. Niall Cook.

More social marketing tips in the mid of recession?

17 Dec
December 17, 2008
This talk about marketing in recession seems to be going on forever since the credit crunch began in Europe. There are more and more marketeers discussing the topic and suggesting ways to keep business viable and marketing dollars make more sense in these hard times.

Perhaps sometimes, downturns are a good thing as it forces us to think harder, put in more effort and accept higher challenges. When times are good, all of us just turns into couch potatoes. So there is always both sides of the coin to every situation. Even when everything just seem bad.

Anyway, I’m here today to share Harry’s latest whitepaper on the Positive Side of Recession with you. There is always a way out of every sticky situation. It isn’t the first time in the history of mankind that we are dealt with such financial crisis. Hence, there will always be a solution to every problem. Whether or not you decide to venture in social media, or decide to stick with traditional advertising, or simply spend more time on creating your brand value, or cut your costs and lie low, everyone may have a different solution. Choose the one that works best for you, there isn’t just one solution.

Download the Positive SIde of Recession Here