Marketing Idea No. 284: How NOT to choose your profession

Police detectives have lousy jobs. There is no fixed work hours. The pay is low. You spend time looking at graphic scenes all the time. And not to mention you spend most of your working hours with the biggest scums on planet earth.

Considering this, why should people choose police work as a profession? What kind of people really should choose police work because clearly it’s not for everyone?

Police work makes sense probably for people who feel they can play an active role in making society a better place. If you have a penchant for helping people but your overall personality is pleasant rather than aggressive, maybe not police work; but nursing is your thing. If you have a sunny, extroverted disposition and you genuinely like talking to people, you should work in sales or customer service.

Now imagine a situation where someone meant for police work ends up in sales and someone meant for sales ends up in a job in funeral parlor. It may sound implausible and impractical, but that’s happening all over the world every day. Every time when someone chooses a job for pay alone or for family pressure, they end up making these wrong choices. Then society as a whole suffers from getting corrupt policeman and grumpy customer service executives.

Not only psychology, but sometimes you have to read your physiological strengths to understand what you can be good for. If there is person who is over 7 feet tall in America, there is a 17% chance he is in NBA right now. If you belong to Kalenjin tribe in Kenya there is a high chance you will be a world class Marathon runner because of the unique and thin leg structure that those people have.

This is how society can help people become happier. By understanding what they are good at and helping them choose profession accordingly.

Marketing Idea No. 283: The Internet of Things

Coming soon to a future near you, your shoe will interact with your refrigerator indicating what kind of mood you are in and depending on that, the refrigerator will suggest dinner in collaboration with the Japansese microwave sitting beside. Just after that, your ever changing bedroom lights will create the perfect ambience to sooth your flailing nerves.

Use of internet connected smart appliances or popularly known as “Internet of Things” is no longer in the fiefdom of science fiction only. As per Business Insider Intelligence report, 1.9 billion devices today, and 9 billion by 2018 will be connected to Internet which is roughly equal to the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs combined. It will drive trillions in economic value as it permeates consumer and business life.

Imagine the possibilities this will open up for advertising. Your refrigerator will become your next media space for advertising. Why put the advertising for your “Mint-Goji Berry Chocolate Yoghurt” in TV when it makes much more proximity and relevance sense to put it on refrigerator?

The transformation of media is neither easy nor quick though. For years of talking about the death of TV and radio, both are still very much alive and probably still driving the majority of ad spending. Newspapers have not gone out of business due to digital subscriptions. For all its hype, Twitter is still in red ink and don’t know how to monetize from a Tweet. And the whole world is still trying to figure out how to make money from mobile advertising without annoying people.

But the immense world of opportunity in “Internet of Things” is out there and inevitable. We just have to crack open the way to ride this wave better.

Marketing Idea No. 282: The Future of Advertising Part 3 – Looking Forward

The prophets of doom has announced the death of Advertising quite a few times in the past decade. Yet Advertising is as alive as it were at any time during its illustrious history. Advertising is here to stay. But just like before, it will be facing transition pains.

There are two theories about how Advertising will evolve in coming days. The first is the widely held but less likely one, which is advertising agencies will become a one stop shop for all sorts of client needs.

This of course means the sections that agencies spun off over the years has to be put back. The media planning, media buying, consumer activation, research, digital – all those pieces of the puzzle has to come back together. In fact a lot of agencies have agreed that they were too hasty to sever those entities from the core function. This trend does make some sense because it will ease the shopping around tendency of clients who will obviously prefer to talk to one group of people rather than many.

What seems very efficient on paper however does not necessarily mean the most effective.

Which brings us to the second school of thought. As per this, the future agency will focus on solving consumer’s problems, and not necessarily through Advertising. This view suggests that in future advertising agency structure will be even simpler. Instead of the copywriter, creative, art director, planner, client service etc.; there will essentially be a cluster of problem solvers. Clients will come to agency with a problem, not a brief because most of the clients cannot define a clear brief and can only give glimpses of what their problem is, which the agency has to structurally figure out on their own. Agency then will try to solve the client’s problem by pulling relevant people or institutions from within or outside the agency.

Flag bearer of such idiosyncratic new kinds of agencies are Droga5, Naked and Anomaly. Droga5 has already made buzz in Cannes advertising in 2006 with its “Tagging Air Force One” campaign which is an example of the future campaigns that Advertisers are looking for. The client “Ecko” approached the agency with a very particular problem of launching yet another clothing brand in a crowded market place with a shoestring budget. The campaign consists of a grainy footage of a video showing Ecko’s founder Marc Ecko as a hooded figure creeping past armed soldiers and tagging one of the engines of the Presidential plane Airforce 1 with words “Still Free” in spray paint. The video went viral and dominated the global news for days. It even led to a statement from White House saying that both president and the plane is safe and its an Internet hoax. Both Naked and Anomaly also work with similar pushing the envelope over tried and tested, discussions over briefs, and solutions over advertising kind of work.

In future, Advertising content will also make its journey back to short and succinct. In the old days, advertising messages were short and to the point because the format of the medium (Radio, Poster etc.) forced itself to be. To grab the attention of consumers with unique forms of storytelling and to tap into the growing power of online videos, advertising content became much larger than its previous 15-30 second format. But in future, as more and more advertising moves into mobile and other digital devices like watches, shoes, refrigerators etc., the format of future advertising will also be short again.

A major role of Advertising will always be grabbing attention, but the approach will be more subtle and covert. Advertising will continue to blur its line with other forms of media based entertainment. A key evolutionary role of advertising in future will be to entertain first and pass on message second. It’s a trend that is already seen in Latin American countries. In Argentina and Brazil, advertisements are seen as a source of entertainment like their telenovelas and soap operas. There is no doubt, that trend will be creeping up in other parts of the world.

Marketing Idea No. 281: The Future of Advertising Part 2 – Looking Sideways

When the 80s came, it became clear that the future of advertising lies in two kinds of agencies. The first is the huge global networks, which is basically a collection of agencies coming together like a conglomerate or a group of holding companies. These networks will have the big global clients who want their campaigns to be replicated all over the world with the same effectiveness and efficiency. These network agencies have the scale, money and global presence to rival any multinational company. Some of these networks were formed through mergers and acquisitions, like Omnicom which has BBDO, DDB and TBWA under its ownership and in terms of billing and revenue is the biggest Advertising agency network in the world. Some networks where formed by a group of clever businessmen who purchased undervalued agencies in trouble to form a global powerhouse. Sir Martin Sorel is credited for forming WPP in such a way. An out and out businessman with finance background and never writing a single line of advertising, he is probably the most famous living advertising legend who created this monolith called WPP Group by combining the world famous JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, Grey World-wide and Young & Rubicam.

The world of advertising therefore is controlled by these 6 giant corporations – Omnicom, WPP, Interpublic (Owner of McCann Erickson), Publicis (owner of Leo Burnett and), Havas (owner of EURO RSCG) and Dentsu. Here the odd one out is Dentsu which is actually one single agency from Japan, not a network of agencies.

The second type of agencies are referred often as Creative Boutiques or “Hotshops”. These are smaller, local agencies which often focuses on completely fresh thinking and provoking advertisements and has clients who want to shake the status quo, rather than the safe predictability of the big network agencies.

The other big trend is how agencies spun off their media, public relations and research departments into separate entities. It made sense because that allowed the agencies to bulk-buy media space for multiple clients at one go which allowed big discounts which they passed on to their clients after keeping a commission. Mindshare from WPP is a pioneer in this kind of spin offs.

The biggest trend of them all is actually the advent of digital and new media. All of a sudden advertising’s role as a one way communication with consumer looks dated, compared to the two way conversation that digital and social has to offer. The continuous debate of the death of 30 second TVC has reached its peak, though to be honest, media spending in any of the old guards of advertising called Print, Electronic and Out of Home hasn’t gone down at all. Media fragmentation is happening faster than ever. People are getting bombarded with advertising messages. Giving less and less attention and trust to advertising is the new reality. To fight that Advertisers are continuously pushing boundaries to come up with newer and cleverer forms of storytelling.

The seeds of the future are already sown in this present. The most misused, misunderstood but monumentally important word of this advertising era is about to change the face of future advertising. The word is fondly known in board rooms, marketing meetings and agency pitch presentations as “Engagement”

Marketing Idea No. 280: The Future of Advertising Part 1 – Looking Back

Advertising is probably the only profession in the world where you can finally put your dual major on Philosophy and Business to effective use. Its also probably the only profession where accountants, chemists, professors, dancers, business graduates – literally anyone can flourish. Its an ancient and great form of storytelling that has shaped our world for hundreds of years. As we motor along with advent of digital and social media, where conversation and word of mouth is the new currency, now seems as good a time as any to ask the question; “What is the future role of advertising”?

To predict the future we have to make sense of our present. And to make sense of present, we have to look back how we evolved. That’s why in this 3 part write-up, we will look at the past first and then the present and future of advertising.

The modern advertising owes a lot to quite a few pivotal moments in its history and a handful of remarkable individuals. It was Albert Lasker, fondly remembered as the father of modern advertising, who shaped the early ways of Advertising agency formation and culture at the turn of the century. When Raymond Rubicam hired George Gallup, it gave birth to research as an essential part of advertising. When Bill Bernbach gave his new office DDB, he was the first to put Art directors and Copywriters to work together instead of working in their silos focusing only on their part.

The most important development of Advertising in the middle of 20th century was the development of two school of thoughts, which addressed the question, “How can Advertising be more effective?” One school believed that primary role of advertising is to sell. For them advertising follows a structure where strategy is the key. They believed advertising originate from and appeals to head and therefore rational, to-the-point arguments should dominate. The most famous proponent of this school of thought is David Ogilvy, who was also the first Englishman to become famous in the Madison Avenue, New York, which is the mecca of advertising.

The other school of thought is led by the creative revolutionaries of the 1950s, led by the legendary Bill Bernbach. He claimed that advertising should appeal to heart. It is actually a higher form of art, hence cannot be rule bound. Its primarily role is to entertain, because if the consumer cannot remember you, then there can be no sell. The current day practice of full layout dominated by a picture, with one line copy which is often resorts to witty wordplay or shock tactics is the outcome of this movement in the 60s.

The longevity of both these school of thoughts prove that the answer to the question of advertising’s role probably is a hybrid of both of them.

Marketing Idea No. 279: The Changing Face of Asian Women

There are two ways to see the world. By travelling or by watching Hollywood movies.

Its probably fair to say some of our world view has actually been shaped by Hollywood movies. Its also fair to say, most of it is as distorted as a Chinese acrobat routine.

There are countless movies depicting Asian women as this timid creature who is compliant and dutiful, who lives for her husband, whose boundary is defined by her societal obligations and familial traditions and whose joy is her children’s joy. But scratch beneath those surfaces and you will see a murmur of discontent, a desire to self-express and choose, to love herself, to pay extra for beauty products because it’s a necessity and not a guilty pleasure, to apply a different kind of motherhood that ensures the life she had, her children would not. In fact its a country in Asia, Thailand, which is often called the most gender progressive country in the world.

This opens up astonishing new insights and opportunities which brands can tap into. Take for example, the notion of looking younger. A lot of time holding on to youth is shown as a sign of vanity for the rich, insecure, idle woman. But during research it was found that 64% woman in China thinks looking young is important in getting a job and doing well in that job. South Korea has the highest ratio of Cosmetic Surgery in the world (74 cases out of 10,000 people per year). Out of the top 8 nations in the world with highest Cosmetic Surgery ratio, 6 of them are Asian. Looking at other aspects of life like “Love”. 63% women who was interviewed during that same research across China to Indonesia believes in love at first sight. Hence the adoption rate of speed dating and apps like “Tinder” will continue to explode in this part of the world. It can be assumed that with such adoption of modernity, traditional values like wearing a “Hijab” (A religious head covering for Muslim women) will go down. But actually the trend of wearing a “Hijab” and the perception of “Hijab” being a style accessory is on the up.

So brands need to shift from their two dimensional understanding of women where they assume its either all pink, flowery and beautiful or all tradition, family and conservativeness. The modern Asian women is a complex fusion of a lot of dimensions and she is a work in progress.

Marketing Idea No. 278: Technology. If you can’t beat it, embrace it

The technology industry has often been a source of envy for other industries. They are dynamic, exciting, full of exciting start up stories, has the power to change the world and in the process earn a lot of money for shareholders. To compete with that, other industries did what any smart organization would do. They understood that since you can’t beat them or be them; embrace them.

MasterCard has always been an “also ran” to VISA, with less global presence and $8.3 billion revenue, compared to VISA’s $11.8 billion. Credit card is a tricky business because at the end of the day a credit card company is nothing but a payment processing company; a middleman between consumers, merchants and issuing banks. When you are just a coordinating payment processor, not to mention the highly regulated nature of the category, how can you add value and differentiate yourself?

To do that, MasterCard decided to reinvent themselves as a technology company. Like Google, they created an in house innovation house called MasterCard Labs. Also they are betting big on its digital wallet business competing head on with Google there.

MasterCard is not alone in this game. Jeans companies are also embracing technology. Wrangler recently launched a denim that moisturizes your legs. Levi’s launched “Liquid Shaping Technology” denim which allows better fitting. Heineken created a limited “Cool Can Edition” where the ink of the can reacts with the chilled temperature of refrigerator to change the can design. In fact the world is embracing its first “Smart Gun” where the gun wont fire if you are not wearing a special watch which triggers the gun switch.

This is smart thinking. Rather than getting swept by technology, adopt it.