Saturday, July 14, 2007

Next Thinking Conference - Malaysia

Regular readers will recall my recent post about the International Thinking Conference held in Sweden in June this year. I was very keen to attend, but I did not.

But my chance to attend will come a lot closer in 2009 when the conference is to be hosted in Malaysia.

What is the conference all about ?

Thinking is such an important skill to the business mind, but equally the individual in everyday life. There are experts in the field of thinking who have devoted much time and effort to understanding the way we (the human brain) thinks and sees the word.

Dr Edward de Bono will be there along with many other though leaders from across the globe. See the website for more information.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Product Line Extensions - Sunny Boy

This product line extension raises a few questions: When is the product no longer the product? With reference to the extension of the brand name. Can this be Sunny Boy? AND what part of the product is the brand?

The original Sunny Boy was a triangular shaped cardboard pod with frozen cordial inside. To me, the Sunny Boy was the format of delivery, not the liquid being delivered. In this line extension where they are now delivering the same liquid in a bottle, it is no longer a Sunny Boy. Properly understanding your products and your brands, is about understanding exactly where the brand exists and whether it is transferable. In this poor excuse for a line extension, the brand has not been transferred.

Good Product Packaging is Underrated

Retailing products is an art. To be successful you need one of the following: Hi profile chain brand name: eg. Myer, Woolworths etc, OR a high profile product brand name eg. Sony, Nokia, Johnson. You could also compte with a ridiculously low price ($2 store), or an ultra cutting edge innovation that speaks for itself, but these are outside the scope of normal retail.

Big store brands and big product brands have it made. Let's talk about smaller chains or stand alone retailers. In these stores the purchasing decision is not pre-decided like with many big name purchases. Customers of small retailers buy on the spot based on what is before them at the time. This is why the importance of store presentation and product packaging is of ultimate importance. You could say the importance of product packaging is inversely proportional to the size of the retail outlet. This is not to say that big brands and big chains can slack off. It just helps to define where the purchase decision is most influenced, which highlights the importance for this kind of retailer.

Now let's talk about the product itself.

Here's a bold statement:

The same crap product will sell more often for more money if packaged better.

Properly designed packaging makes all the difference when the main purchasing decisions are being made at point of sale. AND the cost of implementing the better packaging are more than covered by the increase in price that can be gained by the improvement.

Take the above product. Bickfords raspberry cordial. Packaged in a glass bottle with a label that harks to the good ol' days when shopkeepers were honest and the products were made in your local community. Changing the packaging from a plastic receptacle of concentrated flaour liquid also transforms the idea of the product. No longer to be given as a daily dose of thirst quencher, the cordial is now a luxurious experience with exceptional quality with the taste of nostalgia.

The newly created image can now command both a better in store position and a higher prices for essentially the same cordial as found in the plastic jugs two metres away. If this concept can be applied to packaging of any goods they will sell themselves. The look, the name, the box or the bottle all indicate what attributes the product itself carry. If the product comes in a white box, then it only says negative things about the product because certain questions come to mind: Is it too low quality to have a nice box? Do they buy it from a dodgy factory? If they don't have pride in the product then how can I have any confidence in it? etc etc.

I must mention one potential drawback with creating an image that is 'too good'. If a product has packaging that makes it appear too good a few things can happen. One possibility is the price will seem too low, and this will make customers ask the question: why is this so cheap? If you decide that as a result of developing a fantastic product with equally good packaging you can now demand a higher price you may experience slower sales. This is ok if the sales are only slightly less because your higher profit margin will cover a slight slowing of sales. However, there is not much room to move here and it is important to get a balance between heightened confidence with a higher price, and a price that is low enough to maintain consistent sales.

Again it is an art and not science to get the balance right. But ultimately if the product (whatever it is) comes in a nice box, it will sell better. Simple.

Tradie Humour

I found this on my travels in Brookvale just north of Sydney. It's funny AND eye catching which on the surface isn't groundbreaking, but I wanted to make specific note of it and question exactly what makes it good.

Reverse psychology is always an interesting way to either catch attention or to illustrate a point. In this case the sign is apologetic in the first instance, which implies you are about to be disappointed. This however is not the case. You are immediately and pleasantly surprised by the fact that they are in fact open. There is a second layer here and it comes in the form of sarcastic irony. The sign is a lightweight portable A frame that is normally placed out the front of a business only when they are open. But this sign implies that they are closed by saying 'Sorry'. They could even go so far as to say "Sorry we are closed", and place the sign in a place that clearly illustrates that they are open. As clever as that idea is, I don't recommend it as the general populous are not sharp enough to figure it out.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You Can't Have it All

In Advertising, specifically production of TV Ads, Radio Ads, and also Design work including Newspaper Ads there is a delicate balance between good quality work, deadlines, and cost.

There are three components that make up a job. They govern the process and the output.

The three elements are: QUALITY TIME COST

It would be great to be able to access ultra high quality work, with one day's turnaround, for very low prices, but each element is inversely proportional to the other two. For example: if you would like a high quality job completed in 2 days it will cost a lot. Alternatively you can access a low cost job, completed in 2 days, but it will be of lower quality. The third option is a low cost job, where you demand high quality which will therefore take longer to produce.

There are a lot of companies out there, who are all competing for the same work. Many offering lower cost and decent turnaround, but look closely and you will see that this simple principle is in play. Where a company offers and highly promotes themselves as TWO of the three components they will most likely lack the final of the three components.

Ad Agencies need to be mindful of this rule as it applies to both our clients AND our suppliers. We also need to weigh up elements and define the most important aspects of a job that we may need to buy in, for example a print job, the filming of a TV commercial, or distribution of flyers.

Just like the 80/20 rule, this rule applies to almost any situation where you are primarily buying a service. It is far less applicable to products alone.

The rule of thumb is that of the three components, you can pick two.

Monday, April 16, 2007

RSS Logo Rip. Is this lazy design work?

Is this logo for a fire detection company a direct rip of the below RSS feed logo? I'll let you be the judge.

Company Logo in question:

Original RSS Logo:
How could such a close cousin of the RSS logo be produced naturally? Is it really possible that a designer has gazed at the screen for long enough, not realizing that his unconscious has absorbed this image only to regurgitate it as a logo for a client? Or worse, has someone sat down and found a way to use the logo without changing it at all (except rotating it 90 degrees)? At least change the colour or something, geeez!
Mike Biggs

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Poor Grammar

In my continuing quest for perfect use of the Queen's English, I report that I have found yet another example of poor grammar in retail signage. This image was taken in one of those healthy fast food stores that I hope know more about making fresh food than they do about grammar.

The error in case you can't pick it, is the lack of a comma after the word 'and', as underlined in red. Without the comma, the sentence implies a stronger link between the words fatigue and confusion. The intention of the writer is to give equal weight to all three words in the list; depression, fatigue, and confusion. To give a stronger link between the latter two would simply not make sense.

Mike Biggs

An Example of Poor Advertising?

Is this an example of really low quality advertising? The production values are poor. It's low tech. It doesn't have much reach OR cut-through. But is it good advertising?

Of course it is. This ad has all the elements of great advertising. It's media selection is highly relevant as the likely customer is able to stop, or lives nearby. The only people who see it are able to purchase. It clearly and concisely gets the message across.
What more do you need in an ad for second hand bricks?
Mike Biggs

Monday, March 19, 2007

International Thinking Conference

Thinking is such an important skill to the business mind, but equally the individual in everyday life. There are experts in the field of thinking who have devoted much time and effort to understanding the way we (the human brain) thinks and sees the word.

The international Thinking Conference is held almost every year and this year will be in Sweden. If you are interested in the subject of thinking, do yourself a favour and go to the Conference.

Dr Edward de Bono will be there along with many other though leaders from across the globe. See the website for more information.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

McDonalds are way off brand

In their effort to desperately keep up with current health trends, McDonalds are continually re-inventing their menu. The new products appear to be an effort to make more money by offering more product lines, however it is also a retention exercise aimed at keeping tradditional customers who are thinking of lapsing due to the health issues.

The lates addition to the menu is a range of Heart Tick approved meals which on its own has cause a little controversy. Coincidentally at the same time McDonalds introduced their Heart Tick meals, the Heart Tick Foundation began its own campaign. The campaign (executed via TV ads and lots of PR and even current affairs shows) tells us that a Heart Tick Approval can not simply be bought. The message is that even though there are costs to be paid by a brand to have the tick, these costs are for running the organization and not to buy the tick, the approval, must be earned, they say.

Talk about paranoia. But can you blame them, I'm sure they are happy to have the revenue from the McDonalds Corporation, but what about the bad image for the Heart Tick Foundation? Even though the burgers were approved, people still think they are complete junk.

Now onto McDonalds.

What are they thinking introducing these meals. The most recent step in their march toward politically correctness for the fat ass industry, has taken them even further from their true brand.

They are a fat, fast food brand. Healthy meals for the health conscious adult is not part of it. Can they get any further from their core brand? Sure. Take all the Big Mac's, Quarter Pounders, and deep fried Fries of the menu. There you go, we're now McFresh. If so, you might aswell drop the Mc part because it offers no brand value, or relevance to a healthy fast food chain.

If they become healthy, they are not McDonalds anymore.

Mike Biggs

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Finally an Outdoor Ad that offers something in return.

Outdoor advertising is the most selfish of all advertising media. It forces you to look at it by blocking the 'would be' beautiful scenery, and gives you, the viewer, nothing in return.

I have found the first example (that I have seen), of an Outdoor ad that offers a fair exchange. That is, it gives you something in return for looking at it.

You simply point your phone at it and send a picture message to your friends or loved ones.

Useful. Fun. Fair.

There is a close runner up as the most useful exchange in an outdoor ad. A few years back now, iPod installed a headphone jack so that passers by can plug in their iPod headphones and listen to a new release song that is, you guessed it, available for download on iTunes. It iStinks but in fairness does offer something for the exchange, kind of.

Mike Biggs

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Swiss Paper prints Fake Gucci Ad

This sexy man is not a Gucci model. He is a prankster who successfully elevated himslef to fame by creating theis Gucci ad himself. He convinced a Swiss paper to run it, presumably pretending to be an advertising agency, and told them to send the bill directly to Gucci, which they did.

I am part of the advertising industry, and probably should be annoyed or offended, but in fact I am impressed at the creative genius of this guy.

What a DUDE.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

New Energy Drink - Mother - Uses Channel 10's 'The Wedge'

Mother, one of the newest cans to carry the same old liquid known as an energy drink, is disguising some of it advertising on channel 10 as a 'Wedgedale' news report, where the closest thing you get to any information about what the product is, is a website.

Channel 10 doesn't have much going for it except the Simpsons, which has huge appeal that must be recognised even if you don't like the show. One of their 'F' grade in house productions includes 'The Wedge' which is a fairly lame mixture of the last 20 years of comedy on commercial television, executed with no trace of wit or class.

The annoyance is that you have to go to the website to find out what the product is. This kind of interruption was considered a good thing in Advertising, giving supposed 'cut through'. But with consumers changing and developing their attitudes toward media and brands, the ultimate fact can't be denied; interruption is interruption.

Are they too stupid to develop a campaign that actually offers something to the viewer, who spends his own time to visit their website?

Maybe sneaky trickery is not annoying to the target audience who enjoy the low brow programming of channel 10. It really is a young / uneducated viewership, maybe they are intrigued? If this be true, it contradicts everything we think we know about the gen Y, ie. they are marketing savvy.

I am a marketing exec, so I hate being marketed to. But Gen Y, as much as they are technology savvy, don't have a clue when they are being marketed at.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brand Launch or Re-Launch

Developing or evaluating your brand can be hard when you are so close to your product / business. That' s why we developed a 17 page Brand Launch Primer to aid the process. It covers some of the basic drivers behind brand development then gets into some highly effective creative development tools.

Example Tools :

The Mood Board

The Brand Onion


It won't do the work for you, but it's fantastic guide for client side development.

Free to Download here

Can't see the PDF File?