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December 11, 2008

Mothballing Marktd, Evolving PSFK

by Guy Brighton in Ad Biz, Automotive, Brand Experience, Branding, Creative Thinking, Design, Discipline, Electronics, Entertainment, Event Marketing, Fashion, Food & Drink, Gaming, Guerrilla Marketing, Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Influencer Targeting, Market Research, Media & Publishing, Media Planning & Strategy, Mobile Marketing, Music, Online & Web Services, Online Marketing, Outdoor Marketing, Packaging Design, Product Design, Public Relations, Retail, Sector, Sports & Fitness, Telecom

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We’ve made a decision to stop publishing on Marktd. Despite making changes to focus on the creative/marketing ideas sister site of, we are still unhappy with the quantity and quality of the site.

Marktd started life as a subscription site called IF! which offered ideas to marketers about how to promote their products in a fresh, modern way. It was fairly successful and we got a good number of people pay the $25 subscription - but we felt that the subscription stopped it being read by a large group of people. A few months back we decided to stop the subscription and relaunch the site as Marktd. Since then interest in the site hasn’t really picked up. I would suggest that this is because of a number of reasons:

* We just aren’t that interesting in marketing and advertising. Personally it’s been 7 years since I had a full time job in advertising and the longer time goes on, the less interest I have in the field. Combine that apathy with the fact that only one or two of the regular writing team have ever worked in advertising.

* Many of our readers who work in marketing and advertising don’t seem to be that interested in only reading about marketing and advertising.

* When we do find exceptional marketing ideas that we are interested in, they tend to end up on anyway.

* We launched Marktd because IF! just wasn’t good enough. We’re closing Marktd because the site just didn’t meet our standards.

Maybe one day we’ll think about relaunching it - maybe with a sponsoring partner. From today, the Marktd email newsletter and RSS will change to PSFK content. We’re hoping that the existing Marktd readers will get even better creative ideas content as a result.



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December 5, 2008

44 Brands in 6 Minute: Good Brands in the Music Space

by Christine Huang in Brand Experience, Branding, Creative Thinking, Entertainment, Music, Youth Marketing

We’ve heard a lot of brands wishing to ‘own’ music recently, and we always get a bit, well, annoyed about it, because music belongs to people and persons, not brands. And the only thing brands should be trying to do in terms of music are those bandied-brand words, ‘facilitating’ and ‘enabling’. Ruby Pseudo’s team in the UK did a focus group recently where - in six minutes - the kids named 44 brands they saw as being part of the whole music “thing”, either in a good or an appropriate way.

Our results? The same brands kept coming up. As an overview:

  • Network brand 02 was mentioned by over 65% of the respondents. That’ll probably go up too since they’ve brought all the Carling venues (isn’t it a bit like when Reebok brought Thierry Henry and everyone was like, um, he’s a Nike guy?)
  • Virgin also occupied front of mind, and was cited by over 45% of the kids.
  • Carling (for the time being) took bronze with 35% of respondents calling it out as being appropriately involved with music (Reading Festival and the like)… Diesel was also a runner-up with 25% calling out the denim brand as having a finger in the fat music pie (Diesel New Music Awards).

Overall, the notable brands mentioned in their respective categories:

  • Broadcasters: C4, BBC, M&V
  • Food & Drinks: Carling, Innocent, Coca Cola, Becks, Red Bull
  • Fashion: Nike, Oxfam, Diesel, Adidas
  • Network Providers: 02, Virgin, Orange, T Mobile
  • Mobile Phone Brands: Sony (25%), Nokia (10%) Samsung (5%)

Some useful quotes from respondents:

‘They had a guitar hero tent at Reading, I thought it was amazing, the best thing they could’ve done. There were like loads of geeks playing and really getting into it and they were giving away free t-shirts and there were competitions.” Libby, 16

“They had a Duracell tent at Reading as well, something about lasting longer, some music tent, can’t really remember.” Jamie, 21

“They made a digital map at Glastonbury so you could navigate around and find the best places to get drunk and listen to music!” Tarik, 18

“As for Orange RockCorps- absolutely love that idea - it has the level of exclusivity that will interest and provoke youth into volunteering- genius.” Leonie, 21

‘Sentimental people call it inspiration, but what they really mean is fuel…’

“I did the orange RockCorps thing the other day which is so good for people our age who might not be able to afford tickets for gigs or they might be sold out by the time we get the money together. So many people turned up to the community service I went to that they didn’t have enough tools for us!” Jay-Ann, 17

[article originally appearing on Ruby Pseudo Wants a Word]

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December 4, 2008

Microsoft’s Latest Upgrade: Softwear

by Christine Huang in Branding, Creative Thinking, Design, Fashion, Influencer Targeting, Web & Technology, Youth Marketing

Last night, we attended Microsoft’s soft launch party for Softwear, the company’s new line of graphic tees designed by hip-hop artist Common and “inspired by the 1980s when both Microsoft and hip-hop really came of age.” The software giant’s foray into fashion is intended to conjure a sense of nostalgic hipness around the brand, while reacting to the “I’m a PC” stereotype made popular by Apple. The shirts, which will hit select stores in the US on Dec 15, incorporate old DOS iconography, geek vernacular, and a retro-futuristic aesthetic into some surprisingly stylish designs. Softwear’s two lines, Classic and Common’s designs, can be previewed at Microsoft’s Softwear site, where viewers can also learn about the impetus and story behind the concept, narrated by Common.

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December 3, 2008

Recap: Good Ideas in 2009 in Digital: Shaping Our Online Identities

by Christine Huang in Brand Experience, Branding, Creative Thinking, Media Planning & Strategy, Mobile Marketing, Online Marketing, Web & Technology, Youth Marketing

At our Good Ideas in 2009: Digital salon yesterday, much of the conversation surrounded how our online identities are created, both actively - through our own decisions of what we share about ourselves - and passively - through the actions and perceptions of others. Given that we only have control over half of that equation, how do we ensure that the best and brightest portrait of ourselves is seen by the wider community?

Piers posited his “Red Coat, Black Coat” theory back in 2006, which proved to be a harbinger of conversations to come about approaches to online privacy as the internet extends its reach further into our daily activities. At yesterday’s session, two methods became most evident: one centers around greater transparency. By choosing to let every detail out into the public sphere by our own hand, we’re able to send a clear message that says “this is who I am and I’m okay with that.” Of course, this is a bit of a risky proposition, but a more complex picture with all of its strengths and flaws, is certainly a truer one as well.

The other view that operates alongside the above idea of being “free and open,” is to take a more dynamic role participating in the feedback loop. Developing relationships with not only your friends, but your critics as well, promotes conversation and can lead to understanding.

These lessons don’t only apply to our individual profiles anymore either, but speak to the larger identities being developed at the level of corporations and brands too. Building on this platform, we’re witnessing a trend of businesses starting to raise the bar in terms of the amount and type information being provided to the public, while at the same engaging consumers on a more personal basis.

Online retailer Zappos was mentioned during yesterday’s session as one company that has been able to implement this model in a positive way through the context of their social media-styled employee blogs. Other examples that illustrate this new movement include user generated review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp that enable businesses to directly respond to their costumers and GM Facts and Fiction, an attempt by General Motors to dispel rumors about the current state of their company.

As we begin to see successes from the early adopters of this paradigm shift, we expect more companies will jump aboard and participate. This trend can only lead to a richer consumer experience for all involved.

Watch the video of yesterday’s inspiring session here, and read Fast Company’s review of it here.

[image via Michael Martin]

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December 2, 2008

Adidas’ Celebrate Originality Campaign

by Anjali Ramachandran in Brand Experience, Branding, Fashion, Influencer Targeting, Online Marketing, Retail, Sports & Fitness

Amidst the budget cuts all around, one brand that is actually increasing their ad spend is Adidas. Most of their spending is going to be digital. For their new Adidas Originals initiative - the ‘Celebrate Originality’ campaign which includes 17 celebrities from music, sports and fashion - the brand wants to make sure that they reach as many consumers as possible. From WWD:

While Simon Atkins, business unit director, adidas Originals, North America, declined to reveal how much the company is spending, he said the timing couldn’t be better to roll out the campaign, because “while others are cutting back, we are going to be aggressive in the marketplace,” adding the campaign will celebrate three-stripe’s 60th anniversary. Adidas will begin by running TV commercials, but digital initiatives such as Web home-page takeovers and Facebook will account for more than 50 percent of the spending.

Their partnerships are pretty interesting as well, such as the one with Diesel which explores ‘10 Original Ways to Successfully Waste Your Time’ (!!!!).

[via WWD]

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December 1, 2008

The Branding of Strangers

by Scott Lachut in Ad Biz, Brand Experience, Branding, Creative Thinking, Influencer Targeting, Market Research

Rob Walker over at the NY Times calls attention to an interesting study conducted at the University of Maryland recently, tracking what is being called “incidental brand-consumer encounters.”  Essentially, the research was meant to determine what kind of effect, if any, brands have on us in the context of strangers.  With all of the advertising bombarding as we walk down the street, the ones with the most impact might not be traditional advertising at all, but rather subtle cues picked up from the people around us holding cans of Coca-Cola or wearing a T-shirts emblazoned with an easily identifiable logo.

In one study, each subject was shown 20 photographs of people in various situations and instructed to focus on facial expressions. Afterward, each subject was offered a bottle of water from a selection of four brands. The experiment had nothing to do with facial expressions and everything to do with which kind of water they chose: the subjects had been divided into groups, based on how many of the photos they viewed incidentally included a bottle of Dasani water. Among those who looked at Dasani-free pictures, about 17 percent chose that brand. But about 40 percent of those who viewed a group of pictures that included 12 with a Dasani presence made the brand their pick. Since subjects who actually noticed the brand in the pictures were eliminated from the results, that spike in popularity evidently came from exposure that the subjects weren’t even aware of. “In essence,” Ferraro says, “we have these brief social encounters fairly regularly, and they may have an impact on our choices.”

Walker uses the Ralph Lauren logo as a telling example of a company’s ability to create a lasting, recognizable logo that has been so seamlessly incorporated into their product line that rather than reaching a level of cluttered ubiquity, has almost been rendered invisible - but not really.  And that might be the very reason that it’s so successful.  Recognizing this fact perhaps, Ralph Lauren has smartly allowed the iconic image to play its influential role in public, while leaving it absent from their advertising campaigns.  An interesting lesson in out-of-box marketing and brand positioning, especially given out turbulent economic times, proving that less is sometimes more.

[via Rob Walker at NY Times]

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Simpsons Satirize Apple Brand Culture

by Nicko Margolies in Brand Experience, Branding, Creative Thinking, Entertainment, Public Relations

On last night’s episode of The Simpsons, Springfield was graced with the appearance of a fake Apple store, known as Mapple.  The iconic cube store appeared in cartoon form complete with MyPods, MyPhones, MyCubes and an appearance by Steve Mobs reminiscent of the 1984 commercial.  Should Apple take offense or is satire is the sincerest form of flattery?

[via Laughing Squid]

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November 21, 2008

Economist-branded pizza boxes

by Anjali Ramachandran in Branding, Creative Thinking, Food & Drink, Outdoor Marketing, Packaging Design, Youth Marketing

The Economist did something interesting in Philadelphia, USA recently. They branded pizza boxes that went out from 20 pizzerias in the city with global statistics of food consumption - like the amount of wheat consumption or cheese imports. Apparently, most of the pizzerias were near universities or colleges, so they had the aim of getting young people interested in the magazine. From Cool Hunting:

While undoubtedly a promotion for the British newsmagazine, the pizza boxes represent a creative, through-provoking method of essentially force-feeding information. Perhaps it’s a subject matter slightly heavier than the average pizza consumer is expecting. Do we need to know that 96.8 percent of American mushroom imports come from Canada? Probably not, but it’s definitely food for thought.

via CoolHunting via AdFreak

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November 20, 2008

Hands-on with the Engaging Ideas Card Pack

by Nicko Margolies in Brand Experience, Branding, Creative Thinking, Design, Market Research, Media & Publishing, Media Planning & Strategy, Outdoor Marketing, Packaging Design, Product Design, TV Advertising

A while back, we wrote a short post about the Engaging Ideas Card Pack and mentioned, “We haven’t gotten our hands on the full set, but it looks like a neat package for a broad range of ideas.”  Well, now (thanks to Rob Fox) we’ve gotten our grubs on the entire pack and sifted through the stack of colorful cards.

The first impression is that they look like a deck of large novelty sized playing cards printed on thick stock cardboard.  The front side of each card is an image meant to invoke the message or activity presented on the back.  For the most part, the full card formatted images are stellar, ranging from iconic art and expressive photography down to some painfully low resolution and pixelated images.  However, given the goals of the cards to engage employees through practical exercises, this is a rather minor point.

The 52-card deck (not including two jokers) is meant to stimulate positive discussion through identification of business goals and ideals.  The cards are divided into three general categories: Discover, Design and Deliver.  In this hierarchy of inspiration the cards build on each other by slowly introducing more complex activities, interspersed with straightforward tips.

The themes that appeared the most were honing the effectiveness of leadership, identifying core values and honing the business environment to suit the challenges ahead.  Here are two sample cards that we think embody the entire project:

21.  Distributed Leadership

We tend to think that leadership is something that happens at the top.  True, but what is perhaps more true is that acts of leadership happen across and throughout business, day in, day out.  Identify these acts of leadership, encourage them and communicate them widely.  Doing so helps to demonstrate that all people can offer leadership and will also help acts of leadership to flourish.  This exercise also begs an answer to a fundamentally important question necessary to achieve higher levels of engagement: what does your business recognize as leadership?

48.  Heartstorming
A success factor for any engagement effort is to discover, design and deliver better ways to connect emotionally with people to inspire their commitment and action.  To help accomplish this make “heartstorming” rather than just brainstorming, a core aspect of your business’ problem solving and change practices.  Demonstrating difference, “heartstorming” will help to uncover and build stronger emotional connections by focusing groups on questions like:

  • I love it when…
  • I get a kick out of it when…
  • My heart beats faster when…
  • I’m energized when…
  • It frustrates me when…
  • I feel undermined when…
  • I’m intimidated when…
  • I feel powerless when…

The Engaging Ideas pack is clearly based on solid business research and extensive experience in the corporate environment.  Stagnation of ideas is the clear hurdle targeted by the collection and we applaud the stepping-stones proved for those slow to innovate.  Overall, the package is a collection of ideas that won’t be revolutionary to those knowledgeable, but gives a beautifully formatted package of ideas to those hoping to give the friendly push to coworkers or employees.  Engaging ideas is a careful and successful balance between professional business pursuits and playful corporate connections.

Thanks again to Rob for taking the time and money to ship a sample pack across the pond.

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