Archive for the ‘Views and Reviews’ Category

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How to Tell Tales: Brands’ Path to Publishing

In Strategy,Views and Reviews on April 1, 2015 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Once upon a time brands used to be in control. But happily-ever-afters are dwindling and brands are scrambling to tell stories.  Consumers can now tragically end brand stories by skipping, unfollowing, or YELPing.

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Being great at content is not about the tactical wins on Twitter or successfully newsjacking news. Content is not one-off, it should be a sustainable solution that evolves with brand communications.

Consumers now have the right tools to CREATE, TELL, and DISTRIBUTE accounts of their brand experiences.

Whilst brands insist that they are THIS kind of brand, consumers find a way to define brands differently- with what? STORIES.

The Greatest Story Never Told

There are a lot of great stories out there that have yet to be told greatly. Storytelling is living vicariously through consumer experiences so that more people could experience life with brands. Information is no longer the currency, stories are. It’s not the hunt for the cool, it’s the pursuit of the REAL.

To tell a story, the brand must be a living and breathing core that fuels the creation of more stories.  The new language is art and if brands don’t communicate with respect for aesthetics and authenticity, then consumers will not be engaged.

Story owners and Storytellers

You don’t have to tell stories on your own. That’s why artists, writers, poets, tastemakers exist for they have a higher calling to create and curate beautiful things. That’s why Kanye West is no longer just a rapper (see DONDA).

Is crowdsourcing the answer? It’s risky for it invites all kinds of responses and if you filter it, it backfires.

A more proactive solution is to create an open platform of inspiration where quality creators will be enticed to create, co-create, and share their work.

For example, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s brainchild- HITRECORD. It has become so successful that made-for-TV episodes on Pivot are done through collaborations with artists across the globe with just one theme cascaded by JGL.

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The Storytelling System

The Storytelling System has three key players – The Stories (client), The Raconteurs, and the Inspirers. There is a constant creation and distribution of stories told in images, words, films, etc. These stories are then distributed to inspirers or tastemakers signaled by a LAUNCH but artists can continue to enhance the existing projects.

To make the system work,

  • Conduct an inventory of your stories, both told and untold,
  • Set up your publishing/content platform that enables story creation.
  • Pool in your Creators and Storytellers
  • Create a PLOT (communication brief)
  • Launch the story via Curators and Inspirers
  • Distribute gains and give recognition

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MEDIACOM BEYOND ADVERTISING specializes in designing Storytelling Systems (Content Strategy, Creation, and Distribution) that enables the cycle of creation by creative and authentic artists who also happen to be your consumers.

And this is where we take brands beyond traditional, beyond advertising, beyond just cascading information.

Because to become a PUBLISHER, you must be a STORYTELLER.

And you better be a bloody good one.

 

Jox is a Content Strategist & Storyteller who thrives in integrating brand promises with everyday human stories. She lives vicariously through media and content- ads, viral videos, haiku apps, and blogs. She lives and breathes art to fuel her passion in marketing brands. 

 

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Make it “Viral”

In Ads and other executions,Campaigns,Views and Reviews on February 26, 2014 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There is a Content bubble happening across brands. Stories have become the currency of engagement. It is quite surprising how Brands (and Brand Managers for that matter) have decided to take a back seat, patiently waiting for functional messaging to come out in the end or subtly along story lines.

VIRAL & MOVEMENT are words circling around in brainstorming sessions and client briefs. “Viral”, is a function of highly entertaining or moving stories that people “organically” circulate online.  Honestly speaking, I am way past “Viral” that if we keep on saying it, the marketing gods might just release the Kraken. My proposals have been consciously turned to, “Let’s make a viral video” to “Let’s make a good story that can potentially go viral”. No asset or campaign is inherently viral. If people like it (or hate it), it will be picked up. And now here’s hoping that the brand won’t be overshadowed by the story. DEBATABLE.

“Movement”, is when having triggered an idea, what then do you want consumers to do? To many movements out there that we’ve run out of words to call them. And consumers have become exhausted that we’ve been asking them so many things to do just to support our brands and tactical campaigns. “Isn’t a Facebook like enough?” No because now that you are our advocate, we need you to convert others. And then they just don’t like us anymore thus, the drop off. Then we resort to incentives just to move the needle conversion just a little bit. I am no expert and I have yet to figure out a new way to get out of the Movement mindset.

Brands have embraced Advocacy and assumed identities that ride on the signs of the times whether on diversity, animal rights, human rights, or what have you. For instance, campaigns with Feminist undertones (I, myself, have yet to fully grasp what Feminism really is) have invaded newsfeeds encouraging women to be “themselves”, stand up for what’s right and stand up for themselves. These are not exactly new it’s just that because of brands and commercial attempts, these topics have moved mainstream. After all, if you support a woman of character, a credible bra brand support her. I digress.

Here are some examples:

Pantene Whip It (Philippines): The first thing that I did as soon as I saw it was post on Lean In’s wall. This one was picked up by the right people who believe in the cause but was questioned by Brand advocates. “Where’s my brand?”, they asked. My honest take, at least that’s new news for shampoo vs. trying to convince women what Keratin is.

 

Wacoal My Beautiful Woman (Thailand): The Thais have done it again. They always manage to get reactions from me. Again, no new news for bras but this one just made me question what kind of support have I been getting from Victoria.

 

Budweiser Puppy Commercial (USA): Just pure love. And it doesn’t just apply on animals.

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#HashTag2020: What does 2020 look like in the eyes of Millennials

In Published Works,Views and Reviews on February 17, 2014 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As published on Digital Market Asia on 11th February 2014 and BLINK, an international publication by Mediacom

#2020opt1

Image developed by Muk Ho

For many young professionals, it’s easier to talk about how they imagine their 30s will be different than their 20s than it is to consider the Year 2020. It’ll be important soon enough: Millennials (Generation Y) will make up the majority of employees at 50 percent of US companies by 2020 and 75 percent of global organisations by 2030. So, what are these young people thinking about? Check out their answers to a simple question: ‘What do you think will happen to you and the world in 2020?’

#2020experience
It’s encouraging to note that most of the answers were generally optimistic. ‘Life 360’ was a term used more than once to describe a holistic future where family and career are balanced with the help of technology. Contrary to the selfish stereotype, Gen Y wants to contribute to collective efforts such as sustainable living, organic farming and promoting a better world. “I just want to be a better person than I am today,” said a digital media team lead in Jakarta. There are some, though, who foresee nothing short of an apocalypse. These Millennials seek alternative, or underground, news online. “The environment will be much worse than it is today. We will be close to broad scale armed conflict,” said a team leader from Japan. They may have faith in technology and humanity, but their hope does not extend to political systems. This group has gone beyond conventional preparations for the future, including learning how to open cans (of food) without a can opener. They’re not paranoid; they’re just preparing to survive.

#onelifeonedevice
Our panel expects seamless integration – not just of multiple devices, but of human cognitive and emotive functions. No more multiple transactions, SIM card swaps or currency exchange. A planner from Malaysia foresees a ‘universal card’, which she thinks will merge daunting application and validation transactions by the time she becomes a busy working mom. Surprisingly, Millennials hope technology will help them slow down, not go even faster. They expect devices to simplify life and make people more reflective, especially about privacy. A young manager from New York imagines that “the need for privacy will become a huge issue and will create almost a new industry for people who wish to protect themselves from privacy invasion”. “I imagine the world will have become so ‘noisy’ – with streams of unedited and uncontrolled information from all over the place – that there will be opportunity to create platforms that help individuals counteract that clamour, speed and invasion of privacy,” notes a media planner executive from Indonesia.

#YOLO (You Only Live Once)
Generation Y consumes content to find inspiration and help them figure out what they want to do with their lives… or just where to live next. Online search (particularly Google) helps them make savvier choices. And they’re not settling. Millennials have become career slashers, working at multiple professions that may not necessarily relate to each other. One Filipino expat in Singapore has continued booking casting calls while working as a planner. More people refuse to be referred to by one designation, with the Internet enabling the constant search for the next gig. Content curation and image management via LinkedIn, Tumblr and other sites are just some of the proactive steps taken by young professionals, especially when they have one foot out the door. It’s just a matter of being aware of what will appear in Google’s search results.

What if you could organise the FUTURE?
Millennials are organised, but depend on automation to pay bills, budget and manage their day-to-day activities. Most Millennials, particularly the youngest of the generation, can theoretically imagine 2020 but are vague on the details (even though it’s only six years away). Most talk about wanting to settle down and have a genuine and happy family life.

Imagine a life app that could run for a year before it served up possible mates, based on every transaction, interaction and connection made (or missed) in the prior twelve months? Or one that encourages you to start eating healthier (or invest in insurance for a probable bypass surgery)? Millennials assume that technology will lead to better decision making… and more free time to think about global issues. Gen Y’s heightened interest in politics, the environment and humanity may be an opportunity for brands to reshape their identities. Social causes could become brand definers or fuel product innovation.

Bottom line: Millennials have expectations of themselves and of the world, and plan to be active participants in that future.

Articles

Why Brands Should Be Patient

In Ads and other executions,Views and Reviews on March 3, 2013 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , ,

I would like to share a powerful and poignant ad without every bit of hard sell advertising. I like it when brands are patient and trust that consumer truths will drive the message. Execution-wise, the story kept me intrigued until the end.

These days, brand managers tend to be anxious about exposure. There is an apprehension that expensive ads that don’t carry much of the brand will be money wasted. All elements must be according to the brand aesthetics for somehow, that will induce recall among the target.

The excess of this obsession leads to hard sell advertising. The type that turns people off, even the very people in the industry. It’s a cry of desperation, an aloof move in the hopes of winning consumers. Just because there has been an influx of media platforms, it doesn’t mean that brands should bombard people with “you need this, buy us” pop ups.

I believe in consumer truths and that brands/products that have intrinsic qualities of being great, can genuinely cater to a need. Sure there’s business and everyone up to the events agency can be overwhelmed with KPIs but if brand teams extend their myopic views of hitting targets to answering real needs, it may more or less follow.

 

Lifebuoy soap by Unilever is an undisputed leader in India. For a category leader, its mission is not only to keep the momentum but to also grow the category. It has promoted the Global Handwashing Day creating awareness about the dangers of diseases caused by not washing the hands and also creating relevance worldwide.

Yet in its ads, it doesn’t zoom into a direct approach of saying “Wash your hands before eating or you’ll die”. It appeals to heightened emotions and enlightens everyone about facts embodied by one story. The brand has embraced the mission of reaching out to people, teaching them, and ultimately saving lives or helping millions of Indian kids reach the age of five.

In this ad, you would get the feel of an ad but it’s and ad worth traveling every second with. And the “reveal” is not even about Lifebuoy but about this fact that not all children receive the miracle of surviving until five. The brand took a back seat yet its significance has encapsulated the story so strongly that you want to know what it does next, what story is going to be told, and what problem it’s going to solve.

And indeed, to keep the conversation happening, Lifebuoy has engraved its story into the largest religious gathering in the world…

 

(C) Copyright Brands and Pitches 2013

Articles

Turning Pinocchio for Products’ Sakes

In Marketing Ethics,talks and lessons,Views and Reviews on April 26, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , ,

Photo borrowed from Daniel Plues' site.

Seth Godin in his intriguingly titled book, All Marketers Are Liars, said that, “Authenticity is the best marketing of all”. It’s like being yourself. When your intrinsic qualities align with your manifested self, you are happy and carefree. Otherwise, when you try to hide or divert people’s attention away from an aspect of yours, you appear contrived or aloof.

As a brand or product manager, you know you have a great product when upon making your briefing material, your imagination has already produced even a brand spokesperson’s dialogue. That’s because you are excited to bring the good news to people in creative ways across several contact points. There is something authentic and believable in your brand and you know that it will hit home once out in the market.

Alas, this does not happen all the time. Sometimes there are products that just need to exist to disrupt the market or further dominate the category by creating haphazard ammunition or “just-in-case” brands to counteract possible entry of an international player. But there are also products that are not necessarily original or remarkable but need to be launched fantastically thanks to advertising. This is the time when the team has to lie through exaggeration, omission or deception.

Indeed it is. However, innovations don’t pop out like mushrooms per square foot of a category. Usually, there is a first player that defines the market. When proven to be profitable, others follow with “me too” products. In their most basic forms, these new entrants have marginal or no difference from the first player. So they resort to the guys who can make products seem distinct through branding.

Image borrowed from MASHABLE.

It is a challenge to differentiate especially when there is NOTHING intrinsically different about the product. The task of the creative team is to let the new brand play in the market and bite off the pie. Given this pressure, creative lies may emerge just to come up with a selling proposition.

It’s the Pinocchio Syndrome and the length of how the nose goes indicates how much lies have been told to sell a product. It can be an expensive undertaking to communicate a lie to consumers. They eventually find out anyway. No matter how much emotion an ad has evoked in a consumer when a product fails to deliver, consumer trust is broken upon usage. Usage is the moment of truth and that truth is the venue for the product to reveal its authentic form to the consumer without the frills of emotional propositions or catchy communication points. #

 

(C) COPYRIGHT Brands & Pitches 2012

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Of Brand Equities and Sponsorships

In Campaigns,Strategy,Views and Reviews on April 21, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recently, this massively touching Procter & Gamble global ad featuring dedicated mothers as driving forces behind Olympic winners reached into viral mode. The “Thank You, Mum” campaign is simple as it is genuine but what makes it successful is its relevance with the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London and all the emotions attached to the anticipation of knowing the medalists and their stories. True enough, the underdogs often rise in the world arena.

It is no doubt a strategic move for P&G in communicating to their consumers worldwide. Their products may have been household staples but the brands should strive to remain significant through time. By becoming a major sponsor of the Olympic Games, the company shares the spotlight even if it doesn’t need much push for consumer preference due to its brands’ competitive edge. However,it still pays to have a strategic undertaking when it comes to sponsorships.

Brand Equity is a pillar of Brand Identity. It is basically the strength of a brand and its ability to transmit the same strength to other products and conditions under it or associated with it. Below is an extensive explanation by Investopedia.

With big companies such as P&G, sponsorships can be very common from the smallest village projects to worldwide events such as the Olympics. The greater the brand equity, the more sponsorships get attracted.

When this happens, people in the company must be aligned with the marketing strategies of the brands such that anyone who may say yes to a sponsorship, enriches the brand rather than dents it. Moreover, sponsorship partners must be properly oriented about the brand so they are aligned. I have seen several brand violations unintentionally done by partners just because they were not aware.

The brand must be consistent across communication points especially if it has a strong equity. Any deviation from how it is recognized and admired by consumers can be damaging. Sure, some might claim that brand manager can be exaggerated but that’s because they are custodians of the brand.
Brand managers should not be alone in maintaining the brand’s integrity in any event. There must be a solid and updates brand book that explains the brand from its visual treatment to emotional associations. This brand book is the single consistent guide of any one who wishes to deal with a brand as soon as allowed by the brand manager and/or communications director.
Brand books are not just for big brands who can afford strategic agencies but for budding ones as well. So for any business owner who wishes to make their products distinct, it is time to get started.#
(C) Copyright. Brands & Pitches 2012.

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Branding Yourself: Your Professional Image Part 2

In Personal Marketing,Views and Reviews on April 9, 2012 by Jox Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Before we proceed with the second part of the Branding Yourself series, you may watch this witty talk by Chip Kidd, a brilliant book designer. I somehow disagree with the old adage, “Don’t judge the book by its cover” for this means, the person has failed to present his/her supposed integrity.

Chip Kidd’s work is to visualize a story so as to intrigue a reader to dig through. In managing your brand, it is important that your substance is evident with how you present yourself. However, this can be a daunting long process. I shall make another inference at the latter part of this post.

The second part of the Branding Yourself series is about your offline self. Who are you when disconnected from the computer? It is “you” in meetings, mixers, events, conferences, and reunions. There is a high probability that an individual or two already know a little about you, thus, your online self must be in-synch with your actual self presentation.Another advantage of having a great online record is that they can supplement you in any meet-ups. “You’re the brand manager that turned around X brand”. “You’re the Marketer of the Year”. etc.

Whilst it is inevitable to not exist online whether of your own accord or not, you can be in control of your actual presence in your industry.When your online self has placed you at an advantage, you have to back it up with substance. The offline you may debunk your great online reputation. This cycle then creates a cycle of your professional reputation.

Part 2. The Diagnosis. Your Offline self.

Substance over style. Review your interactions, connections, and self presentation.

A.Review your network. How big is your network i.e. your connections that can make or break your professional standing? What a network can never do is maintain your status quo. You are always moving in and out of a network. A good indication can be the number of business cards you have collected. If you have failed to keep any of those, please consider collecting them now. I got business cards from a cab line just by networking with a firm owner. You should be able to network anywhere for you will never know when you need a person to kickstart your goals. So go back to the business cards you have, sort them according to industry, and sort them according to the probability of connecting with them sooner or later.

P.S. Don’t underestimate your relatives as part of your network. Your uncle or aunt may be a business owner or a hard-core executive who can amplify your profession. Just present yourself as a viable candidate.

B. Who are you in a sentence or less? In marketing, a brand must always have a key selling proposition or a distinct characteristic that sets it apart from competitors and industry players. A quick gauge is when you introduce yourself, what words describe you? For some reason and perhaps with a little bit of brainstorming, I was able to come up with Integrated Marketing Professional specializing in Brand Management and Execution. Of course, this can be shortened and altered just how taglines/copies creatively change while remaining true to the proposition. Your primary professional description must present your greatest abilities such that anyone who might be looking for your services can easily consider you as a solution. A suggestion, you may want to have your business cards made.

C. Activate your interpersonal skills. I admit it is an imperative to have great people and communication skills in my field but I believe everyone has the right to present themselves with utmost confidence. Having joined Toastmasters International has been life changing. I have met seriously socially averse individuals who now impart their knowledge to people akin to prophets of enlightenment. I believe that it is such a waste to have brilliant ideas that never make it across the wall. Information is power and being able to share and receive them is far more empowering.

D. Enrich your mind. There is a difference between being pedantic and being useful. Aim to be the “go-to” person in connection to your expertise. For example, in the office, I was considered to be the “copywriter” just by creating creative words for presentations, thank you cards, campaigns, or even introductory speeches and also the “fact checker” just because I like reading random information from entertainment to politics. Since I don’t know everything, I also have my “go-to” persons who also cultivate themselves with information they want.

John Maxwell is an advocate of developing habits and I think feeding your mind daily with mini-information cultivate your memory and your analytic skills. Turn on the news while eating breakfast or driving to work. Read the front page while sipping coffee. Check news about your company on the intranet. Just extend a small effort to know about something everyday.

E. The 80/20 Principle. The Pareto Principle can be such a cliché especially in the business world but it is often effective. While over-all you must be an amiably just person, you should be strategic with presenting yourself. You must be at your best and most professional self among powerful people in your field e.g. your boss, the director, the investor, etc. for they have vast networks where information about you can circulate. Seize the opportunity in presenting yourself well and become memorable. Having made the impression among these people can yield huge rewards in your entire network. Be strategic about this.

 To sum up, managing your offline self is about improving yourself to effectively reach out and expand your network. It is also aligning with your online portfolio and enabling both aspects to build a sound professional reputation. These five points are just a few guidelines on top of performing well and not settling on mediocrity.

Akin to a book, you must have an intriguingly intellectual cover that unfolds your talents and abilities any person would like to dig further through. You must be the visual embodiment of your brand of integrity and substance. #