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$100 campaigns

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I love this  “ship early, ship often” approach social content from Lars Silberbauer, head of social media and search at Lego, shared at Social Media Week London

Describing how Lego created its social marketing campaigns, he said: “We start out by creating $100 campaigns. We of course do TV ads and have a lot of budget but I want people to think differently about social.”

The idea of the $100 spend came about as Silberbauer wanted his team to think more about the dynamic of the content and not just the spend available. The number was decided as he asked his team to empty their pockets, and the value of change held by the group was almost $100.

“Pilot and scale” is a planning mantra at Brilliant Noise. I’d like to try out a few $100 campaigns – it’s a neat way to constrain and get you trying out ideas.

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Public notebook

Brands on the edge of a cultural breakdown

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Let’s connect a few dots around the idea of brands.

After the Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum in London, I finally caught up with this James Surowiecki article from February’s New Yorker, Twilight of the Brands. The gist of it – consumers need brands less than the brand marketing industry thinks they do…

It’s a truism of business-book thinking that a company’s brand is its “most important asset,” more valuable than technology or patents or manufacturing prowess. But brands have never been more fragile. The reason is simple: consumers are supremely well informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos. “Absolute Value,” a new book by Itamar Simonson, a marketing professor at Stanford, and Emanuel Rosen, a former software executive, shows that, historically, the rise of brands was a response to an information-poor environment. When consumers had to rely on advertisements and their past experience with a company, brands served as proxies for quality; if a car was made by G.M., or a ketchup by Heinz, you assumed that it was pretty good. 

Connect this with The Economist piece on the collapse of trust between people and advertisers, as the industry continues to optimise for interruption marketing that no one really wants…

Havas Media, a big marketing agency, says trust in them has been declining for three decades. Last August it published the latest in a series of worldwide surveys, in which 134,000 consumers in 23 countries were asked what they thought of 700 brands. A majority of those taking part would not care if 73% of them just vanished. In Europe and America 92% would not be missed. Only in places like Asia and Latin America, with lots of newish consumers, is there a bit more attachment to brands, though Havas Media reports that it is declining there too.

Fracking the social web, as John Willshire calls the relentless chasing of consumer attention by any and all technological means, is part of all this.

And meanwhile brand marketing is losing the brightest and best talent to adjacent, more digital, agile and innovative industries, as agency CEO John Winsor wrote in post at The Guardian:

Every day the best and brightest young talent leaves the industry to join (or just bypass the industry all together) digital alternatives from start-ups to established digital players and other, more innovative established players in other industries (IDEO is an example). They might think of themselves in the marketing and advertising businesses but they don’t want to take the traditional path. Working their way up through the creative ranks not only seems too slow but much too political and bureaucratic.

In a couple of weeks’ time the Cannes Lions festival of advertising will kick off. The last day, Saturday, is innovation day. Maybe next year, that should come at the beginning.

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Brilliant Noise Public notebook

Pilot and scale?

Ember

An important part of the way we work at Brilliant Noise is “pilot and scale”. Find the best solution and then help grow it, spread its use.

Seems like common sense. Interesting, then, to read Johnnie Moore’s thoughts on an article about whether “scaling” is appropriate in some types of organisation, specifically NGOs involved in development.

A quote from Anna Young at the Young Foundation stands out:

… the concept of scaling has strong connotations of standardization. It has its origins in manufacturing, where the aim is to achieve economies of scale, by spreading fixed costs across more units of output. But in the messy social field, the potential for standardization is more limited. Here, concepts of reinvention and adaptation will be at least as important, if not more so, than standardization. Social outcomes are not products that can be easily made to formula and packaged. This is especially clear in the context of innovation in public services.

Could it also be the case for all kinds of organisations? Is this the kind issue that new “scaling” approaches like holacracy can avoid?

Certainly in a creative or ideas-based organisation, standardisation would be death. A successful project cannot be replicated, issued as a facsimile for all future challenges. Processes and principles and support systems can be, but using the “product” as a synonym for “service” is perhaps a symptom of a dangerous fantasy of standardising something of which you would never want a standard version.

Pilot and scale, prototyping and shipping – these are very useful ideas, but we should also consider their limits.