Reverse Branding

November 15, 2007

This interesting post from Living Light Bulbs (hat-tip to the Get to the Point Newsletter at for the link) essentially talks about identifying an experience with a brand rather than vice versa.  The takeaways that Get to Point identifies from the piece are:

Make a personal connection essentially by treating your customers as individual rather than demographics;

Give people a reason to talk about you by focusing on creating dialogues rather than controlling messages; and

Tell a story with your product or brand rather than trying to be clever with corporate buzzwords and abstract slogans.

The key takeaway for me is essentially to broaden your marketing mix.  The public relations discipline has been doing this kind of thing for a long time – we exist to tell stories.  It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that a lot of people still seem to think that we are the people who control the media; the hounds who you set on a reporter if you don’t like what they wrote.

Used properly, PR has an unmatched capacity to build and develop these sorts of brand relationships.  It may mean doing some things a little differently.  It may mean taking the lawyers out of the room for a while.  It may even mean recognizing that communication is a strategic function of your business that can actually have an impact on the bottom line.

The alternative is essentially to stand in the market and shout your brand name as loud as you can.  Unfortunately, thousands of other brands are doing that as well.

And no-one is listening.


The Communications Creativity Underground

August 22, 2007

Sometimes a little creativity can make a big impact when communicating.  I came across this latest Nike initiative through a colleague’s blog today.  This is a solid, well-thought through idea that links back to brand values (I’m sure it’s also gone through the legal department at Nike also; I’d be nervous if it was in a highly litigious market like Korea or Ireland).

However, it was good reminder about how risk-based and creative communications activities can reap huge return for companies.  Considering that most Korean companies are risk adverse, I wouldn’t be surprised if a multinational operating in Korea does something similar first. 

Also, if anyone is brave enough, I’ve been dying to implement an underground campaign based on virtual graffiti but have yet to get it over the line in Europe or Korea to date.  Any takers?  Surely ‘ubiquitous’ Korea’s the place to do it.  Or maybe it already has, and I’m sadly no longer with it!!!

Parsimony, Social Media and Drifting Porsches

August 7, 2007

Disclaimer: Hankook Tire is a client of Edelman in Seoul. However, that does not detract from the fact that this is a very cool piece of film!

What is interesting about this is that this is one of the comparatively few cases of a Korean company using international social media channels to promote the things it’s doing. There’s a lot of stuff happening in the online space in Korea – particularly on the Cyworld and Naver communities but, short of posting ads, I don’t see very much content on YouTube.

This particular piece of film was shot in July during a test for a drifting Porsche and later posted up onto YouTube, primarily to interest the drifting community. As can be seen from the comments, it has certainly reached its target audience and consequently raised the profile of brand. It’s a great example of how an item of content not necessarily created for promotional use can nevertheless be used to provide more context on what a company is doing behind the scenes.

Good communications is parsimonious in that it generates the maximum amount of use from resources at the lowest possible cost. Taking materials developed for internal use and review and using them for external communications via platforms such as YouTube is a great example of parsimony. Assuming, of course, that you don’t divulge trade secrets, the list of possible applications is almost endless – concept products, pop group rehearsals, product stress tests, trade show events – almost anything that is used for internal reporting purposes can be adapted for dissemination to an interested target audience. Think of the “bonus features” on the average movie DVD and the extent to which people – myself included- will watch footage of the production process shot on a hand-held video camera as a part of the whole movie experience.

Consumers and other stakeholders increasingly want to see the story behind the brand. The glitz and polish of classical advertising is giving way to grainy, home-made content that can be viewed online and shared between fellow enthusiasts. Korean companies typically spend enormous amounts of money on advertising to build brand awareness. Taking a parsimonious approach to communications has the potential to build awareness among important stakeholder groups without the heavy upfront expenditure required of a traditional advertising campaign.

And, if you’re interested, here are a couple more drifting Porsche videos. After all, there’s nothing wrong with shameless client promotion!

(Love the soundtrack on this one!)

Thorn Birds

April 26, 2007

I was reminded last night about the Thorn Birds. The mini-series gripped Ireland in the mid-eigthties, in the same way the JR murder mystery did.  There was a major power outage in Ireland on the night of the final episode.   Every house throughout the country was watching the final show and at the ad break, everyone went out to make a cup of tea, turned on their kettles, and bang: a power outage.  God bless all those Mrs. Doyles.

It made me wonder whether you could have such a phenonmenon today?  The world cup and any soccer game that brings out the Red Devils in Korea seems to have that same mass audience potential, where the entire nation becomes one.  But what else galvanizes an entire nation and as a result offers a huge opportunity for an organization to interact with this mass audience? 

From a communications perspective, the day of placing a hugely successful advert around a melodramatic mini-series like the Thorn Birds are few and far between.  When it comes to brand building you have to hunt out the niche audiences, people who are passionate about specific things, new communities online and so on, and then engage these audiences in dialogue. The consumer has become a lot more sophisticated and has a lot more entertainment options, meaning it’s a lot harder to build your brand, if you don’t follow the new rules.

What’s more I get to post something about Richard Chamberlin.  Finally.

NGO Partnerships

April 6, 2007

I just got pictures posted on a shared site of the St. Patrick’s festival I helped organize here in my spare time.  What’s more we also got through the official head count from the parade itself.

Three things I wanted to post on:

  1. No matter what you do when it comes to communications or brand building, you have got to have a measurement system in place.  We had over 5,000 people who collected ‘game tickets’ at the entrance to Marronier Park, where the Irish Festival was taking part.  This means MORE than 5,000 people came through; it was so cluttered with people, I know a lot just by-passed the formalities (and game tickets) so they could watch the music and sample the Irish liquid delights on offer!  We had expected a couple of thousand.  This figure gives us a great deal of negotiating power next year.
  2. Not only was this a massive success for us, our sponsors Diageo (Guinness) got more than a bang for their buck and got to tie in with a credible non-for-profit organization.  According to Edelman’s Asia Pacific Stakeholder Study 2006, opinion leaders in Korea trust NGOs (30 per cent) over other groups studied: Government (19); Business (16); and Media (15).  Even though we are not a UNICEF, Diageo could not have organized such a credible event without our organization and have benefited from the tie-up with an non-commerical entity, particularly in the Korean market.
  3. Diageo leveraged the sponsorship more than ever this year: we worked with them and gave them the opportunity to do so and they delivered at their end by attracting more interest.  The result was the best ever St. Patrick’s festival in Korea for both the Irish Association and Diageo.