Category Archives: General

The Tell The Truth Contest

Synopsis

Traditionally, the role of advertising has been to position and manipulate brands to convince consumers they’re imbued with qualities they don’t necessarily possess, or presume to tell them which ones matter. It worked when the brand’s voice was the only voice, but with the rise of social media that era is over. Marketers have scrambled to fill the chasm by focusing on entertainment, creating funny or engaging campaigns that win awards, but don’t always sell products. That’s because consumers are ultimately looking to determine what’s true, and smart companies have realized that every communications medium should be used to contribute to those conclusions.

In Tell The Truth, Sue Unerman and Jonathan Salem Baskin have identified the 8 actions that do it. Their research of hundreds of companies and in-depth case studies on more than 50 global brands reveal the specific ways truthful brands deliver sales, profits, and true competitive advantage.

Competition – What you need to do

Sue and Jonathan really believe in the power, creativity and freshness that new talent can bring to the industry, which is why, in association with MediaCom, they are holding a competition for university and business school students to show off their skills.

We are looking for the bright and hungry to come up with a solution to the brief, based on the understanding that brands that Tell The Truth are the ones that truly succeed.

You can find some tips from the book below, or alternatively you can purchase it here (though no purchase or fee of any sort are required to enter the contest):

http://www.amazon.com/Tell-The-Truth-Powerful-Marketing/dp/1936661462

Prize

The winning entry will win a summer 2013 internship at MediaCom, either in the UK or US office. For more information on MediaCom visit www.mediacom.com. The winner will also be a star Truth Teller weekly blogger, giving insights into the world of marketing to other students looking for inspiration and ideas.

The best entrants will also be featured in an exclusive ebook entitled Truth Tellers: How Tomorrow’s Leaders Will Change Today’s Brands, which will be made available to corporate leaders around the world, as well as to all participants in the contest.

8 Ways to Brand Truth

  1. Acknowledge reality.
  2. Take on board your consumers’ understanding of reality before you try to change it. Address what the consumers know is true before trying to persuade them of something different.

  3. Deliver real changes to services and company structure.
  4. Consumers will only believe you if what you tell them is not just what you say, but also what you do. You can’t convince these days with just a plausible message; it must be made tangibly real through your very practices and implementation.

  5. Take the consumer on your brand truth journey with you.
  6. Tell customers clearly what you want them to know, give them a clearly signposted path to discovering it (not just a portion or version of it). Don’t be vague, don’t communicate a fuzzy warmth about your brand. Be specific and directional.

  7. Enlist third-party advocates.
  8. Third-party advocates are essential. Third-party involvement — not just as audiences of “influencers” but active co-definers – must be an integral part of your brand truth, both to help to create it and then to defend it over time

  9. Be close.
  10. However huge or global an idea or information might be, it is literally experienced locally when it’s consumed. Recognizing this and using this quality to competitive advantage has huge power, as exploiting nearness and delivering its true relevance can differentiate between what’s believed and what is unbelievable.

  11. Find a Truth Turning Point.
  12. Truth isn’t just an extended narrative over time, but a moment — a Truth Turning Point, or “TTP” — when brands challenge conventions, defy expectations, and surprise consumers by speaking directly to them.

  13. Use point of action media.
  14. Few brands fully exploit the context of their messaging by ensuring the meaning in the message is delivered at the time when it is most useful and therefore easiest to act on or do something about.

  15. Leverage routine.
  16. Most people spend most of their time in routine activity: If you can either fit into an established routine or create a new one then your brand wins. If you can become the routine truth for your customer then the clutter of everyday living works to your advantage.

Brand truth exists and it can work for you. It’s unavoidable, additive, and very sticky, and its experience is immediate, useful, and ongoing. Tell the Truth is your detailed guide on how to do become a truth teller and thereby create and deliver true competitive advantage for your brand.

The contest will be judged by a panel of eminent marketing professionals including of course Sue and Jonathan, together with: MediaCom’s Global CEO Stephen Allan; MediaCom USA’s CEO Sasha Savic; Don Schultz Professor Emeritus-in-Service, Northwestern University; Ken Wheaton, Managing Editor, Advertising Age; Claire Beale, Editor, Campaign; and Vic Davies of Bucks New University.

There will be four judging criteria with equal weight :

Insight, Originality, Flexibility, Affordability

The deadline is November 30 2012 for 1000 words explaining how Brand X can gain a significant competitive advantage by Telling The Truth.

Please submit your word doc by email to tellthetruthbook@gmail.com.

Terms and Conditions of Submission

The closing date for submission is November 30 2012.

  • Successful candidates will be notified within 60 days of closure of the competition (the “Notification Date”).
  • The judge’s decision is final.
  • You will have 10 working days from receiving a written confirmation of the offer to confirm your acceptance of the internship.
  • Failure to respond and confirm your acceptance within this timeframe will result in the offer of internship being withdrawn.
  • The applicant must be available to commence the internship on July 1st 2013
  • In submitting your entry you acknowledge that your contact details will be shared with those involved in the competition.
  • By entering you are giving full permission and rights for publication of your entry.

Terms and Conditions of Employment

  • Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited university.
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old as of the date that the internship commences [see commencement date].
  • Applicants wishing to apply for a US internship must be legally authorized to work in the US. Applicants will be asked to supply evidence of eligibility to work in the US.
  • Applicants wishing to apply for a UK internship must be legally authorised to work in the UK. Applicants will be asked to supply evidence of eligibility to work in the UK.
  • The term of the internship will be a minimum of 2 months, the timing of which will be determined by MediaCom, in its sole discretion, after consultation with the successful applicant (the “Term”).
  • The intern will not be entitled to an offer of employment at the conclusion of the Term.
  • The internship will be paid at a rate of $10 per hour in the US based on an expected 40 hours per week.
  • The internship will be paid a minimum of £4.98 per hour in the UK (depending on age) based on an expected 34.5 hours per week.
  • Travel, accommodation and expenses are not included.
  • The US interns will not be eligible for medical or 401k benefit.
  • The intern will be eligible for time off during public holidays and any annual leave attributed to them during the term of the internship.

If so much is fake, who or what can we rely on?

There really isn’t much to rely on any more. For thousands of years people have had faith in kings, gods, priests or shamans.

In the last decade we’ve heard time and again that people have lost faith in religious institutions, government, authority, and the monarchy.

We understand instead that consumers would rather trust the opinion of “someone like me” than any kind of spokesperson, senior management or professional expert. Of course, often, that “someone like me” is found online, and can be a stranger, not just a friend, acquaintance or family.

But headlines now abound that are revealing the huge volume of dissimulation online which can only increase public cynicism even further.

Twitter is full of parody. Facebook has acknowledged 83 million fake accounts. Book reviews are for sale. Even magazines renowned for their fact checking, like the New Yorker, get duped by their own writers.

And if you thought that people out there know that they can trust what the adverts say then think again. They don’t (they don’t accept the “legal, decent, honest and truthful” rule that I am sure I have understood for ever about TV advertising). As readers of my earlier blog on this subject will be aware we have found that there is a massive marketing truth deficit in the UK.

As trust disappears in the wild west of online dialogue and the traditional upholders of truth no longer have authority then people will seek certainty elsewhere.

Step forward brands. There really is an opportunity right now to step change a brand’s image and prospects. By focussing not on becoming famous by being entertaining, or for being cheap or being used by celebrities, or having lots of “likes” but for telling it like it is. There is the opportunity to gain massive competitive advantage.

My book Tell the Truth gives 8 clear techniques for delivering competitive advantage.

High noon is approaching. The time to stand up for something that you believe it. To create the brand that is the truth telling sheriff in the wild west of 21st century fakery.

Are tablets the future of advertising?

At a drinks party recently one magazine editor confided in me that he thought the future business model for his magazine lay in diversification of services. Conferences and events have long been used by Media Week to generate added revenues. This kind of of thing is newer for the glossy magazine that we were discussing at the party and the editor was enthusiastic about the possibilities. He mentioned that he had suggested curated holidays as a further revenue stream. “Look at me, I started as a story teller, “he said, “but now I’m a travel agent”.

Diversification is good, but is this the only means available to print media to drive profits ? Not according to Arif who describes the Mail online’s business journey here.

Of course at recent conferences and media get togethers the iPad and tablet advertising in general have been called the saviours of glossy magazines. The latest round of UK tablet research from the IAB is bullish as you might expect about advertising on tablet computers. 47% consumers see it as the future of advertising overall. They expect to see their favourite brands’ ads on tablets. UK consumers want ad funded content and enjoy interacting with tablet advertising. However the research also marks a level of criticism from respondents about tablet advertising. 30% claim to be disappointed with current ads.

I don’t know how this compares with their level of disappointment with ads on other media (they may be a very critical bunch), but consumer expectations aside I do think that there is a necessary step for our industry to take in order to set conditions for ad funded content on tablets to flourish.

I can understand that the IAB’s respondents want a good bit of interactivity and entertainment from Tablet ads. My way of judging good advertising is less to do with how entertaining it is (I am easily entertained as everyone who knows me will acknowledge). It has more to do with whether it has fulfilled one or other of the two criteria of good effective advertising (that sells stuff). Has it created demand? Has it harvested demand?

Google shook up the demand harvesting side of our business by offering shared risk to advertisers. It is time for the same step change to radicalise the demand creation aspect of advertising. We need to see media owners, media agencies and clients enter into shared risk discussions that set out clear and consistent kpis for medium and longterm advertising objectives. This will itself drive best practice attribution modelling and accurate cross media research.

We have been pioneering this at MediaCom. It is a trickle of revenue for most mainstream media owners. It is time to open the flood gates.

The Marketing Truth Deficit is greater than I thought

“Truth in advertising has long been something to ignore or interpret creatively, if not intentionally avoid altogether”.

When Jonathan Salem Baskin and I wrote the opening words to our book Tell the Truth we did so out of a strong sense that the marketing industry was not reacting fast enough to the enormous change in consumer expectations driven by the internet and smart phone access.

We believed that the art of spin was becoming redundant and that the skewed positioning, that brands often resort to, worked fine when the brand’s voice was the only one speaking to consumers. But in the Age of Dialogue, with social media on the ascent, the time for spin was over. We said in closing : “in five years we’ll look back on the art of spin as an anachronism”.

Research presented by MediaCom’s Managing Partner Steve Gladdis and Real World Insight Director Pauline Robson at this week’s fourth Age of Dialogue conference showed that what they termed “The Marketing Truth Deficit” was concrete and urgent.

At a lively and stimulating day (yes we did also have Lord Sugar as a speaker, but I think that would make a separate blog), Gladdis and Robson revealed that whilst 68% of the UK public say that it is important that companies tell the truth in their advertising only 34% do actually trust advertisers.

A qualitative research study recently backed this up when the planners attending it were surprised to hear that the respondents all agreed that you couldn’t trust what ads said even if it was a factual claim on TV.

Perhaps we should not be surprised. Trust in institutions, government and experts is lower than ever. And the public is more likely to trust the opinion of a stranger who they think is “someone like me” than of anyone who they think is paid to say what they have said.

Not surprised then, but certainly spurred into action. If you don’t know what to do about it here’s the book.

Friday March 23rd 2012 : The end of segmentation targeting?

The Thinkbox conference last week was a riot of sacred cow shooting.

Professor Byron Sharp from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of South Australia took aim at segmentation noting that for big brands it is not only unnecessary but potentially harmful. He called talking to loyalists “marketing in retreat” and as Maisie McCabe explains here views Facebook as irrelevant for reach.

The professor was followed on stage by Martin Weigal Head of Planning at W+K Amsterdam who gave us his frank and unfavourable views on “engagement planning”. I happen to agree that emphasising engagement tends to mean shifting away from selling products. Weigal said that when it comes to outcomes “Deeper does not equal better” citing Heath’s work on low involvement processing . Weigal went on to say that the vague use of “engagement” is simply “metaphor run amok”.

The panel that followed saw speaker after speaker grind the art of segmentation into the dust.

Let’s hope that the time saved on running irrelevant correspondence analyses can be better spent in our core (collective) task of growing the sales of brands.

Advertising forms reputation. Reputation puts demands on companies to be more honest.

Thom Dinsdale @thomdinsdale

Thanks to Andy Walsh for forwarding me this Tweet. Interesting isn’t it?

It reminds me of The 4891 Theory (the inverse of 1984).

In Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece the general public was constantly watched by Big Brother and nothing went unremarked or unpunished.

In reality it is the great and the famous people of the world who are constantly under scrutiny from the general public. The famous now can’t escape punishment for unacceptable behaviour whether it is inappropriate remarks from politicians (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/05/diane-abbott-twitter-row-racism) or goings on by prominent footballers (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8531175/Ryan-Giggs-named-as-Premier-League-footballer-in-gagging-order-row.html).

And how world leaders are allowed to keep talking with their mics still attached escapes me. That’s like media buyers overhearing what media owners say about them in the pub after the negotiation. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2058966/Nicolas-Sarkozy-called-Israeli-Prime-Minister-Benjamin-Netanyahu-liar-Obama.html).

So the bigger a star you are the more careful you need to be about your reputation.

Exactly true for a brand too.

The more famous and esteemed your brand reputation is the greater the need to tell the truth.