Monday, December 8, 2008

RVCA x National Drawing Awards

Last week saw the opening of the National drawing Awards presented by our clients RVCA. RVCA are a clothing brand that has a heritage of supporting artists globally via their Artist Network Programme. The Whisper Shop developed the partnership between RVCA and Artspace (the hosting gallery) to develop awareness and credibility of the brand in the art community of New Zealand.

Some images from the event:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We got "Whitelisted" for Google Friend Connect

If you look in the landhand bar of this site and scroll on down you will see a new addition, a couple of windows from the new social networking tool Google Friend Connect. Many months ago we applied to be part of their trial, and the other day we got a little email saying we've been "Whitelisted" to use the product. Over the coming weeks we're going to explore ways in which we can use Friend Connect to benefit our business.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's buzzing right now?

I urge you to check out Twitscoop a site that tracks what is buzzing on Twitter right now. If you want to understand what the most intriguing topics around the world are right now this site will tell you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vote for Change

This is a great example of a campaign that utilises the power of the web. The Vote for Change website utilises a number of online word of mouth tools to promote the Obama / Biden Presidential ticket. The site features videos of celebrities endorsing Obama and makes the files available in almost any format and availble to be syndicated to a multitude of social networking tools. Via the site, advocates can distribute and share the videos via iphone, ipod, facebook, myspace, PSP, Google or their very own sites. The creators of this campaign understand that the internet is most powerfully utilised when you create content that can be shared across the platforms that integrate into consumers lives, rather than the antiquated idea of asking their audience to come to them.

Click here for more videos from Vote For Change

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Marketing in a recession

OK, so we've all been told the end is nigh, the sky is falling and we're heading for recession for the foreseeable future. We also know the old adage that the most successful businesses continue to advertise through the tough times. When the raw reality hits of decreasing confidence, needing to pay the bills and your staff, this is easier said than done.

We believe that they key is to advertise smarter, rather than less.

  • Have a strategy for your brand and communications. Ad hoc marketing decisions end up in wastage and substantial cost increases over time
  • Reconsider your media mix
  • Explore online social networking and targeted advertising strategies
  • Try something new. As Einstein put it, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
  • Utilise a cost effective communications agency with a coherent and strategic approach to spending your cash
  • Remember that generating word of mouth is the most effective form of communication

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crackerjacks in the New Zealand Herald

A great article in the New Zealand Herald today on our client Crackerjacks and their Managing Director, Tony Wai talking about how their online contracting recruitment site is going to help business save money and time when hiring contractors. The story contributed to a record day (and weekend) for signups on the site.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sovereign "Leaders in Life" wins Advertising Effectiveness Award

Sovereign's "Leaders in Life" campaign, developed by TBWA/Tequila has won a Bronze Effie at the 2008 Advertising Effectiveness Awards - the only awards that truly matter.

Piero Liguori of The Whisper Shop was involved in much of the early qualitative research and strategic planning of the campaign, we're hoping he got a credit on the award. Congratulations to all involved!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Campaign Silly Season ... American Style

Imagine how much this would have cost if it was your brand and you had to pay the talent.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The early leader in campaign silly season

People ask me what my degree is useful for. I say "generally not much." Every time election season hits us my Master's Degree in political studies gets dusted off and become a go to guy for details of the intricacies of MMP or a supposed educated opinion on who to vote for - my grandmother called me asking for instruction about 2 weeks back.

One of my personal favourite tasks is taking my other passion - advertising, and assessing the merits of the various parties campaigns. So far we've seen the major parties regurgitation the same old visual pollution - "Labour, Pillay, Tick, Tick" "National Key Blah Blah." etc etc It astounds me that these parties feel that's still relevant in 2008 ... oh yeah, John Key and Helen Clark both have Facebook pages. edgy. relevant. I think not.

For me the only party who is actually trying to communicate an idea with their billboards (I'm not going to get into a policy discussion here) are the Greens with their beautiful "Vote for me" campaign. They deserve some congratulations.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jonathan Safran Foer: How I Write

Two of my favourite books of all time are Jonathan Safran Foer's "Everything is Illuminated" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." This interview from explores his writing style and process.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Client Work: Hello Dolly

Branding, Product Design, Advertising and Promotional material

We created the branding and product designs for this new gift brand. The brand has been a sell-out success story. The design appeals to women of all ages and needed to be flexible enough to use on anything from hammers to aprons, posters or printed material. The simplicity of the colours and the packaging design create a strong, memorable retail presence enabling the products to sell themselves. The products and trade fair stand have won numerous awards. Click image for more detail.

Client Work: Tax Management New Zealand

Branding, Advertising and Promotional material

Starting with a brand workshop we’ve worked with Tax Management New Zealand to rebrand their business and raise product awareness across a range of media including advertising, direct mail and online. The work has been highly successful resulting in record product acquisition numbers. Click image for more detail.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Finding a place in the world

I recently attended the Semi Permanent conference in Auckland. It was a great event with presentations from twelve creative professionals working around the world in a range of disciplines including graphic design, motion graphics, interaction design etc. Over the two day conference some common themes emerged amongst the speakers. Often their best work and most creative projects were “love jobs”. One designer even said that she forgave her fee for a poster to enable the client to afford a very expensive printing technique. The resulting posters were so beautiful that the client decided to sell them online. They sold out in a couple of days. The designer has beautiful photographs of her work but was paid absolutely nothing for this project.

I understand the thinking behind this and can relate to it myself – when an enjoyable project comes along you are more than happy to put everything into it in the hope that the high quality work may be noted by your peers and potential clients, which will then lead to more work. Creative professionals are doing their best work for free and are charging higher prices to do poorer quality or less creative work. I repeat, creative professionals are doing their best work for free and are charging higher prices to do poorer quality or less creative work. Can you imagine a builder working by this philosophy? Or a surgeon? Or anyone else for that matter?

Another theme that emerged during the conference was the old design vs art debate. Is good design art? One designer insisted that it was, whilst another said art and design will never be the same because “design has to work”. Perhaps professional creative people have a repressed inner artist who is dying to express themselves. This inner artist is so desperate to work on a creative project that when one comes along they do it for free. Maybe this explains why designers are prepared to work on enjoyable projects for free. If this is the case, then surely creative professionals should satisfy themselves creatively outside of work. If they don’t, it’s the same as going grocery shopping when you’re hungry.

The other argument is that if clients appreciated creativity they would pay for it. Surely then it is our responsibility to educate clients on the benefits of creativity in communication. If clients recognise and appreciate better work then they would be prepared to pay for it. There are effectiveness awards that may help in the client education process, but the work is rarely exceptional on a creative level, so these awards would fail to encourage clients to pay more for something they percieve they don’t need. Other award shows judge creativity with no regard for effectiveness of the communication, so these also do not reinforce the worth of creativity. This leads me to my own personal struggle.

I worked as a graphic designer for five years and never understood the general mentality of designers. Designers are employed to produce pieces of communication, however in most cases, they do not care if the work actually communicates. For many their work is a vehicle to deliver selfish fulfillment. For example, a designer will present a logo in the colour orange and post-rationalise the colour choice to the client when truthfully, the colour has no relevance to the brand or the business, it is simply their favourite colour.

This self indulgence never sat well with me so I left design to work in advertising. As an outsider to the advertising industry I liked the lack of pretense. These guys were making ads to sell products and weren’t pretending otherwise. I liked the strategic foundations of advertising. Briefs came from understanding both the brand and the consumers and the resulting work reflected these insights. As a creative person I was inspired by the creative ads I saw and I worked as hard as I could to get a job with the creative director who's work inspired me most. Very quickly I discovered that advertising creatives are obsessed by winning awards.

Like the design industry, advertising work considered to be potentially award winning is done for free. I worked in several agencies where day-to-day work on real client jobs was less important than my ability to win awards. I was expected to pro-actively create work for existing or new clients that could win the agency more awards. Award winning advertising is generally made for industry peers. Everybody is trying to be more creative and innovative than each other. Often in the quest for awards, the client, their product and the effectiveness of the work is irrelevant. I personally do not agree with this approach. Clients give us their marketing budgets in good faith. In my opinion I think that providing solutions with no regard for the cost or the outcome is disrespectful and lacks integrity.

Sometimes I do not know where I fit in the world of creative professionals. I know that I enjoy the creative problem solving process and I like that my work can help people grow their business. I love all forms of creative communication when it is relevant to the brief and when it is executed without ulterior motives. I do believe that there are solutions that are both creative and effective. I hope the work we produce for our clients at The Whisper Shop reflects this.

Angela, Creative Director

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ken Block in New Zealand (Again)

Yesterday we were down at the Rally of New Zealand for our client DC Shoes. DC co-founder Ken Block is competing in the PWRC event and we facilitated some media for the big man including this TV3 Interview featuring an exploding deer. The client was particularly happy with the coverage. Thanks to Gray from Performance Car Magazine for the photos.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Arkitip = Yummy

I just received my latest copy of art / design magazine Arkitip. With the latest issue my renewal of subsciption form was enclosed. Opening every issue is like Christmas. As well as a beautifully designed magazine, each issue contains a free gift. I've had t-shirts, viewmasters, driving gloves, a tote bag and this month a 7" inch. The sheer joy of opening each issue is making it hard for me to not resubscribe - despite the dropping NZ dollar.

Google Rallynz?

I've been intrigued by this campaign that I assume has been run by Rally New Zealand. Instead of the conventional URL on a poster, they ask you to Google Rallynz. I would love to hear the strategic rationale behind the campaign. Whatever their intention I've definitely found it has made me think.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crackerjacks, Freedom from 9 to 5

The Whisper Shop have had a major client project in incubation for a little while now, but the egg has finally hatched. Last Thursday we launched Crackerjacks.

Crackerjacks is New Zealand's marketplace for contractors. Up until now, someone else has always dictated when and where you work. But not any more. Crackerjacks' contractors have a lot more control over how they spend their time. As a contractor you decide when you work, who you work for and how much you want to earn, and with Crackerjacks now it can all be managed at your fingertips.

If you're one of the New Zealanders crying out for more leave and greater flexibility of working hours, contracting is a great way for you to achieve that all important work/life balance, allowing you to own your own time. Contracting gives you the freedom of being your own boss, minus the responsibility of running a business. It allows you to do what you like with a Monday, mould a Friday to suit yourself and you get to choose what you're going to do with your own December. It's completely up to you. As a Crackerjacks contractor you get to pick and choose how you spend your time, and most importantly, you are in control of your own life. It's the contemporary way to approach your career.

Crackerjacks is for people of any vocation, is great for mum's returning to the workforce, people who are studying part-time, older people who aren't quite ready to retire yet and of course people who want to make more money and want greater flexibility in their working style. And of course, since we're going to build the most comprehensive collection of contractors in NZ, if your business needs to hire a contractor - you now know where to look. We believe we are offering businesses the most cost effective and user friendly offering in the market.

Spend your life wisely, become a contractor. check out and become a fan on Facebook

Thursday, July 17, 2008

T-Shirts for Alter Ego Post

A series of T-shirts designed by our Creative Director Angela Bonfiglio for Canadian post-production company Alter Ego in Toronto.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The limitations of marketing

Here's a great little story by a friend of mine. He talks about how he finds an amazingly packaged beer with a great story, that unfortunately can't live up to its own hype.

Great packaging, great advertising, gorgeous design, clever marketing ... these things can only get you so far. They get people to talk about you, they make potential customers become aware you exist, and they can even generate trial. But for a successful BRAND, there must be more than trial. Repetition of purchase is fundamental to business success, and repetition will not happen without a quality product.

In cases like Eric tells in his story, when the quality is largely determined by the nebulous benchmark called "taste" there are numerous examples of brands that defy my thesis. Stella Artois, I am told, consistently wins the award for the worst tasting beer in Europe, and closer to home I am continually astounded by peoples love for a particular market leading brand of espresso (who shall not be named). In these cases "tasting good" is often a euphemism for "what I am used too."

However if we examine an industry such as hotels, you can tell everybody how wonderful you are, but if your front of house service is sub-par, customers won't come back. If a brand of footwear falls to bits, they won't be purchased again. If you are a seeking a repair for a laptop bag, and the retailer makes it hard to get that repair, you'll definitely think twice next time you consider purchasing from the store.

It's because of this that companies need to have a more holistic view of the idea of BRAND. Despite what the design comapnies might tell you "branding" is not your colours, your logo or even your tagline - brand is the totality of a persons experience with you. It's the way you deal with complaints, its the way your answer the phone, it's the music playing in your store, it's the handwritten thank you card that come when they resubscribe to your magazine. These are the types of things that determine repeat customers

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Go Skateboarding Day!

Yip, it's official. Today is Go Skateboarding Day. Even if you haven't been skateboarding since you were 14, c'mon, get out and give it a go ... but you'll probably need to pop down to your local skateshop and pick up a pair of DC's first. (Sorry about the shameless client plug!)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quote of the day

"42.7% of statistics are made up on the spot"

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Introducing Onto-it

Onto-it is an Information Communications Technology system for farmers who want to monitor and improve their farm’s performance.

The Onto-it Farm system provides key info about your farm, at your finger tips, whenever you want it, wherever you are. The Whisper Shop have worked with Onto-it to develop a range of corporate videos, designed and built their website, developed their print collateral, created a PR strategy, and if you are popping down the Fieldays next week, check out their stand that we helped design.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Resting a weary head

As any of you who have been following my Twitter posts will have noticed - I've been travelling all week. 

Nothing beats experience for generating word of mouth. Two highlights of my travels this week are worth mentioning.  

1. I stayed at the Scenic Circle Southern Cross in Dunedin. They have a pillow menu. I have a bit of a bad back and neck, so finding a great pillow is always a bonus.

2. Went out for dinner at Plato in Dunedin. Terrible lighting, and tacky interior (although i think they were being ironic) but the food was fantastic and the service was brilliant.

I recommend them both.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

User Generated Content: "Taka Throw Down"

Working with our clients Action Sports Marketing and their leading brand DC Shoes, The Whisper Shop developed a promotional campaign and a public relations package to surround the "Taka Throw Down" a snowboard event at Takapuna Beach on the North Shore.

Only a couple of days later, and it's already evident the way that PR coverage is measured is ever-changing. In addition to traditional coverage such as this piece from TV3, we're measuring user generated content such as the YouTube videos below. Undoubtedly more video and photos will emerge in the coming days.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How Google works

Passed onto us from our friends at ijump here's a simple overview of how Google works

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Google Friend Connect - Preview Launch

Over the last few weeks there has been considerable movement within the social network environment with both Facebook and Myspace announcing they are going to allow their networks to be accessed in open-source environments. Possibly the most fantastic news though, was the announcement of the launch of Google Friend Connect. Friend Connect will allow sites to integrate a social networking gadget into their site to bring social network environments to them. Below is the introductory video outlining the basic functionality of the gadget.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The consumers voice outways any other noise

Sam Decker writes on NetImperitive that good old word of mouth is the most effective form of communications. We're glad he agrees.

Focusing on consumer reviews online, he shows that the voice of the consumer far outways the messaging from a traditional ad campaign.

Today, advertising is so ubiquitous that it becomes ignored. Ironically, the oldest form of ‘advertising’ – word of mouth – sounds fresh, modern, and – more importantly – trustworthy and credible. Chief Marketing Officer of Bazaarvoice Sam Decker shares how online brands are increasingly using their customers’ word of mouth to fuel traditional advertising.

Today’s consumers are smarter than ever. They quickly spot and discount hype, largely ignore traditional advertising and tend to distrust advertising messages delivered by huge companies.

Advertisers work to capture sales while battling against ever-expanding ad options, shorter attention spans, rising production and placement costs and the growing mistrust of consumers. Traditional marketing campaigns only scale moderately, and that’s only if the costs per impression decreases or the advertising effectiveness increases

If it’s a question of trust, consumers’ words beat yours. According to a global Nielsen survey, consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising, cited by 78% of respondents. The Edelman Trust Barometer tells us that trust in ‘a person like me’ has tripled, from 20% to 68% from 2004 to 2006, and in 2007 ‘a person like me’ is still the biggest influencer to consumers. Royal Mail’s 2007 Home Shopping Tracker Study in found that two thirds of UK social networkers are more likely to buy a product as a result of a recommendation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Telling a tale of quality

A simply beautiful little ad from Volkswagen selling their quality story.

RVCA wins men's surf clothing brand of the year

Our client RVCA just picked up the award for best surf brand in the world. We're stoked.

Southern California based lifestyle brand RVCA is proud to announce its win at the 2008 SIMA Image Awards in the category of Men’s Apparel Brand of the Year. 
Awarded to the men’s apparel brand that featured the most exciting designs, increased its brand appeal and grew its business between January 1st and December 31st 2007, RVCA received this victory on Friday 16th May during the Surf Summit 11 in Cabo San Lucas, toppling the heavy hitters of the industry - Volcom, Quiksilver, Billabong and O’Neil.
“Winning SIMA’s ‘Men’s Apparel Brand of the Year’ was a shocker” said RVCA Founder and Creative Director, PM Tenore. “For RVCA to be acknowledged with the greats of the industry like Quiksilver, Billabong, Volcom and O’Neill was an honor in its own. Eight years on from starting in the garage to the present…. winning this award is unbelievable. I know the whole RVCA crew is stoked and very honored of this achievement. Thank you to all the retailers who have become such great partners, to SIMA for providing an environment that brings the industry together in such a positive manner and most of all to everyone at RVCA for making RVCA such a great platform to work with such amazing humans.”
“We are very proud to accept this award” said RVCA President, Dan Levine. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for RVCA, truly a David v. Goliath scenario.  The other brands that were nominated are long standing icons in our industry.  It is a true reflection on PM Tenore’s vision for RVCA and the collective talent on the RVCA team that strives to tell our brand story every day.”
Next up, RVCA will be launching many exciting projects this coming summer, including team rider Alex Knost’s first feature film ‘Beach Blanket Burnout’, a charity fundraiser Art Exhibition in aid of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and a collaboration with Italian bicycle company, Cinelli.
RVCA is proud to be apart of SIMA and receive this award and looks forward to making 2008 yet another award winning year.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why Twitter Matters

So for the observant types we now have a Twitter feed box, where you can read my (and eventually Angela's) last 5 Twitter posts (tweets).  Now possibly this may appear to be all a waste of time, but here's a few thoughts on why it truly matters ... personal branding, relationship and knowledge.

Buy Ikea in Sims 2

With the gaming industry now generating more money than the movies, and attracting far more eye-balls, marketers are constantly looking for ways to integrate themselves into games. The norm has been to take a broadcast i.e billboard approach within games. Ikea have taken this a step further:

"Players of The Sims 2 will soon be able to add Ikea furniture to their virtual homes as part of a marketing deal between the Swedish company and Electronic Arts, the computer game's producer.

EA has formed an unusual partnership with Ikea to make a selection of the retailer's furniture and home furnishings available to players of The Sims 2, sequel to The Sims - the life simulator that is the best-selling PC game series ever."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Taka Throw Down

Our client DC is putting on an amazing event at Takapuna Beach. Come on down and check it out.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fast strategy from the gut

IF has listed some some hot tips from Adliterate writer and planner Richard Huntington.

I fundementally, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agree with Richard's point that great strategy is about having an opinion and point of view. So often, there is this unsaid assumption that we are required to find the "right" answer - this is an impossibility. Doing so, is looking for a prescriptive truth that can never be proven. Input from others can be valuable, but in the end it's just their opinions we are seeking. Right or wrong? Who knows? What does your gut say?

Here's Richard's hot tips.

1. Time is not the problem in creating strategy, ideas are. If you can find an idea the time will find itself.
2. Ideas first, facts second. Facts only make sense in the light of an idea.
3. There are only two criteria for judging your creative strategies - are they simple and are they interesting.
4. It is vital to be interesting, it is merely important to be right.
5. If you look in the same place as everyone else you will never find something interesting, no matter how clever you are.
6. Every great solution comes from a great problem. Make sure you understand the problem behind the problem that you are trying to solve.
7. Anything and everything can help you. Take a walk and think about how every shop, sign, ad, conversation and observation might help you solve the problem.
8. Be prepared. Keeping reading the weird shit.
9. Keep your focus on finding out the things you didn’t know you didn’t know.
10. Call upon your latent strategies, the strategies that you have always wanted to use but have never had the chance.
11. Remember that the stale strategic idea of one category is the ground breaking step forward in another.
12. Jam with other people, online or face to face. But don’t engage that trojan horse of mediocrity, the brainstorm.
13. Ask yourself what the brand’s position might be about the something we all care about.
14. A position is an opinion. We live in an age of conversation and opinions are the lifeblood of all conversations.
15. Plan from within. How do you feel about the brand, category or the wider world? How do you explain your own behaviour? You are not unrepresentative, you live in the same brand landscape as everyone else.
16. Trust your instinct - its the most truthful resource you have.
17. Fast strategy is more about decisiveness than speed. Often we need strategic courage more than haste.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Market Research Society of New Zealand

Planning Director, Piero Liguori has been provisionally accepted as a full member of the Market Research Society of New Zealand. As a member PIero is obliged to follow MRSNZ guidelines when undertaking any market research activities.

A belated welcome to Ange!

It's a crime that we haven't announced it here already, but we are delighted to welcome Angela Bonfiglio as Creative Director and Managing Partner of The Whisper Shop.

As an Art Director for DDB and Saatchi & Saatchi Angela worked on many of New Zealand’s favourite brands including Toyota, DB Breweries, TVNZ, Watties, Tegal, Westpac and Telecom. After working as Creative Director for Revolution Advertising and winning an array of international advertising awards including a Cannes Silver Lion and a D&Ad nomination, Angela also created the branding and award winning ranges of gift products for New Zealand’s fastest growing gift brand Hello Dolly Tools for Women. She’s left the large agency environment to pursue something greater, albeit smaller.

Glad to have you Ange.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Twitter 101

You're probably aware of the social networking giants Facebook, Bebo, Linked in and MySpace . However keep an eye on Twitter. In their words "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? " With a word count limit of 140 characters (less than the 160 that a text message offers) creativity, lateral thinking and the mundane exist side by side.

The Washington Post have written a nice little introductory article on the site that's worth reading.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Real-life Facebook

An insight into what Facebook would be like if it was real life.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Virtual Wall

This is a really interesting concept to increase road safety. Lasers create a "virtual wall," this has to be far more effective that traditional warning signs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Co-working and shared spaces

The Whisper Shop operate in a bit of a shared space arrangement. As well as our our spaces we have a great co-working relationship with our friends at Catch Design whose office is our de-facto Wellington home away from home. We thought we were a little different in the way we operate, but PSFK have written a great article on the pro's and con's of co-working and office sharing situations. They interviewed agencies listed on Ain't No Disco (which is a simply superb and inspirational site btw) and it appears that our modus operandi is becoming scarily normal.

Friday, April 4, 2008

It's not my fault

Legendary Saatchi's London creative Paul Arden, author of It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling Book died today due to a heart attack. his book are genius. In tribute, from Commercial Archive here are some thoughts from the man himself.

- Blame no-one, but your self, if you have touched something accept total responsibility for that piece of work. If you accept responsibility you are in the position to do something about it. If you are involved don't blame others.
- Know your clients aims We are trained to think advertising is all about selling products. That is often not the case. The motivation may be quite different. Always find out what a client wants to advertise for.
- Do not covert your ideas Give away everything and more will come back to you. They are not your ideas anyway they are God's.
- When the client wont buy, do it his way, then do it your way Very often having given him what he wants he will give you what you want. There is also the possibility he may be right.
- Do it first, don't ask and be prepared to take the consequences A new idea, is either silly, unfamiliar or both. It cannot be judged by description, it cannot even be judged as a storyboard. It needs to be done to exist. No one will sanction the cost, therefore you have no choice but to do it whatever the cost.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Brands, My Friends Part 1

Brands aren't about form or function. The meaning of a brand is endued in the relationship you have with it. And if brands are inherently relationship based it should come to pass that you'd have friends (and enemies).

So here begins a series where i tell you about the brand-friends I have. Now i'm not just going to tell you about my best friends, but some some casual friends as well. The brands I like to hang out with on a day to day basis.


No surprise hear I guess. The interesting thing is that we are going through a bit of a rocky patch in our relationship ... I call it Leopard. In theory the new operating system is awesome. But I'm finding applications are crashing on a regular basis. Now, i love Apple because they make things easy. Like the ads say, stuff just works. Right now stuff isn't working, but I know they'll get it sorted. They always do. And if, they don't, i get the impression they'll have tried.


The most convenient supermarket to my place is actually a Pak N Save. If i want to buy some cereal, or dishwashing liquid, chips or coke, that'd be the place I go. Apparently it's far cheaper (although i've never really compared). But because they're so cheap I pretty sketchy on their meat and their range seems to be pretty limited. I can't say I love Foodtown, but they always have what i want and i trust the quality of their produce. They're definitely my supermarket of choice. It's comfortable.

Whitaker's Milk Chocolate

I recently got introduced to Whitaker's Milk Chocolate and Dried Apricot. Put the chocolate in your mouth, suck for a while, then add the apricot. Chew. It's amazing. No other chocolate would work so well ... in saying that I've never tried.

More of my favourites coming soon ...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trends forecast from Leo Burnett

Futures Editor of Leo Burnett, Ben Houraine talks about what's coming next ...

Smoking habit for sale

Auckland man James Hurman is selling his smoking habit on Trade Me. With huge national and international interest we thought it might be nice to sneak a little of our clients product on him.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ben & Jerry's by Parra

I love these yummy ads for Ben & Jerry's. THe lines are superb, but the typography is by on of my favourite artists - Parra. The man is a typographical genius.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How Fangio created planning

Great post from the blog of Australian media shop Bellamy Hayden.

In the Monaco GP in 1957 (or 1950, depending whom you ask, but I’m more confident in 1957), Juan Manuel Fangio was leading with a few laps to go. He was coming up to a blind 140kph bend around where today’s swimming pool complex would be.
There was a pile up of cars around the bend that was blocking the track. In those days, ploughing into stationary cars at 140kph was very bad news. Remarkably, just before the bend, and for no obvious reason, Fangio braked sharply and crawled round the corner, avoiding the cars and continuing on to win.
He was asked by a reporter after the race how he could have possibly known to brake. His (paraphrased) reply? “The crowd was the wrong colour. I could tell they weren’t looking at me and that meant something around the corner was more interesting than the leader of the race. So I braked.”
So basically, Fangio …
Spotted something that was there for anyone to see but most would not have noticed.
He realised its significance.
He had the courage to act, even though slowing compromised his lead.
His actions had a positive effect.
Sounds to me a lot like good planning.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Price is Perception ... REALLY!

The Economist recently posted this article claiming that eople do not just say they enjoy expensive things more than cheap ones. They actually do enjoy them more. THis give an interesting scientific point of view on the old adage that price is perception.

EVERYONE loves a bargain. But retailers know that people will sometimes turn their noses up at a cheap version of a more expensive item, even if the two are essentially the same. That suggests something is at work in the mind of the consumer beyond simple appreciation of a product's intrinsic qualities.

The something in question is expectation, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Antonio Rangel of the California Institute of Technology. Dr Rangel and his colleagues found that if people are told a wine is expensive while they are drinking it, they really do think it tastes nicer than a cheap one, rather than merely saying that they do.

Dr Rangel came to this conclusion by scanning the brains of 20 volunteers while giving them sips of wine. He used a trick called functional magnetic-resonance imaging, which can detect changes in the blood flow in parts of the brain that correspond to increased mental activity.
Dr Rangel's research also has implications for retailers, marketing firms and luxury-goods producers. It suggests that a successful marketing campaign can not only make people more interested in a product, but also, truly, make them enjoy it more.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that REKLAMKARAKTARER means planner ... I'm not even going to Google it before i post this ... I am that confident!

Facebook is evil (even the Guardian thinks so)

Everybody that knows me is aware, that i am one of the remaining bastions of facebook-rejection. Yes, it's true, I operate a word of mouth marketing agency, and yet i don't participate in the world's largest word of mouth forum.

Now lets get one thing straight. I'm not a technology neophyte. I am all too conversant with the principals and practice of social networking. In fact i was part of a team that won a Grand Prix at Cannes, in which the winning entry used Myspace as a key media component. The thing is, i just don't like online social networking. Maybe I'm getting old, but how about going out for a coffee, sending an email, or what ever happened to good old Skype or ichat like we used to use in the old days?

So, i sit round and abuse my friends for their participation in the ridiculous cult, and i in return get abused for not joining in. Thankfully the Guardian just published a full-frontal attack by Tom Hodgkinson.

Some of my favourite extracts:

"Why on God's earth would I need a computer to connect with the people around me? Why should my relationships be mediated through the imagination of a bunch of supergeeks in California? What was wrong with the pub?"

"And does Facebook really connect people? Doesn't it rather disconnect us, since instead of doing something enjoyable such as talking and eating and dancing and drinking with my friends, I am merely sending them little ungrammatical notes and amusing photos in cyberspace, "

"it is a social experiment, an expression of a particular kind of neoconservative libertarianism. On Facebook, you can be free to be who you want to be, as long as you don't mind being bombarded by adverts for the world's biggest brands."

"Although the project was initially conceived by media cover star Mark Zuckerberg, the real face behind Facebook is the 40-year-old Silicon Valley venture capitalist and futurist philosopher Peter Thiel ... But Thiel is more than just a clever and avaricious capitalist. He is a futurist philosopher and neocon activist. A philosophy graduate from Stanford, in 1998 he co-wrote a book called The Diversity Myth, which is a detailed attack on liberalism and the multiculturalist ideology that dominated Stanford. He claimed that the "multiculture" led to a lessening of individual freedoms."

"I listened to a podcast of an address Thiel gave about his ideas for the future. His philosophy, briefly, is this: since the 17th century, certain enlightened thinkers have been taking the world away from the old-fashioned nature-bound life, and here he quotes Thomas Hobbes' famous characterisation of life as "nasty, brutish and short", and towards a new virtual world where we have conquered nature. Value now exists in imaginary things. Thiel says that PayPal was motivated by this belief: that you can find value not in real manufactured objects, but in the relations between human beings. PayPal was a way of moving money around the world with no restriction. Bloomberg Markets puts it like this: "For Thiel, PayPal was all about freedom: it would enable people to skirt currency controls and move money around the globe."

Clearly, Facebook is another uber-capitalist experiment: can you make money out of friendship? Can you create communities free of national boundaries - and then sell Coca-Cola to them? Facebook is profoundly uncreative. It makes nothing at all. It simply mediates in relationships that were happening anyway."

"Thiel's philosophical mentor is one René Girard of Stanford University, proponent of a theory of human behaviour called mimetic desire. Girard reckons that people are essentially sheep-like and will copy one another without much reflection. The theory would also seem to be proved correct in the case of Thiel's virtual worlds: the desired object is irrelevant; all you need to know is that human beings will tend to move in flocks. Hence financial bubbles. Hence the enormous popularity of Facebook."

"So by his own admission, Thiel is trying to destroy the real world, which he also calls "nature", and install a virtual world in its place, and it is in this context that we must view the rise of Facebook. Facebook is a deliberate experiment in global manipulation, and Thiel is a bright young thing in the neoconservative pantheon, with a penchant for far-out techno-utopian fantasies. Not someone I want to help get any richer."

"The third board member of Facebook is Jim Breyer. He is a partner in the venture capital firm Accel Partners, who put $12.7m into Facebook in April 2005. On the board of such US giants as Wal-Mart and Marvel Entertainment, he is also a former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Now these are the people who are really making things happen in America, because they invest in the new young talent, the Zuckerbergs and the like. Facebook's most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock's senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What's In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA ... The US defence department and the CIA love technology because it makes spying easier. "

"Facebook pretends to be about freedom, but isn't it really more like an ideologically motivated virtual totalitarian regime with a population that will very soon exceed the UK's? Thiel and the rest have created their own country, a country of consumers.

Now, you may, like Thiel and the other new masters of the cyberverse, find this social experiment tremendously exciting. Here at last is the Enlightenment state longed for since the Puritans of the 17th century sailed away to North America, a world where everyone is free to express themselves as they please, according to who is watching. National boundaries are a thing of the past and everyone cavorts together in freewheeling virtual space. "

And just for fun here's his take on the Facebook privacy policy

Facebook's privacy policy

Just for fun, try substituting the words 'Big Brother' whenever you read the word 'Facebook'

1 We will advertise at you

"When you use Facebook, you may set up your personal profile, form relationships, send messages, perform searches and queries, form groups, set up events, add applications, and transmit information through various channels. We collect this information so that we can provide you the service and offer personalised features."

2 You can't delete anything

"When you update information, we usually keep a backup copy of the prior version for a reasonable period of time to enable reversion to the prior version of that information."

3 Anyone can glance at your intimate confessions

"... we cannot and do not guarantee that user content you post on the site will not be viewed by unauthorised persons. We are not responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures contained on the site. You understand and acknowledge that, even after removal, copies of user content may remain viewable in cached and archived pages or if other users have copied or stored your user content."

4 Our marketing profile of you will be unbeatable

"Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (eg, photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalised experience."

5 Opting out doesn't mean opting out

"Facebook reserves the right to send you notices about your account even if you opt out of all voluntary email notifications."

6 The CIA may look at the stuff when they feel like it

"By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States ... We may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws. We do not reveal information until we have a good faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private litigants meets applicable legal standards. Additionally, we may share account or other information when we believe it is necessary to comply with law, to protect our interests or property, to prevent fraud or other illegal activity perpetrated through the Facebook service or using the Facebook name, or to prevent imminent bodily harm. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, agents or government agencies."

Maybe it's an article thats a little conspiratorial. But silly old me would just prefer to go out for a coffee with you rather than virtually poking you.

Here's the link to the full text of the article

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Google in my good books again

A while back i blogged, complaining about Google. But credit is given where credit is due. I'm loving iGoogle at the moment. It's simple to use, customisable and smart. Shame there is no blogger gadget. i'm sure it'll come. Here's my iGoogle page today.

How to make people love you

I like Apple. My MacBook as my constant companion. Currently my old iMac is in getting repaired because the screen died. Yesterday i got a call from the Aussie office. Because they were having a delay in finding a part for my 2 year old iMac, they offered me a brand new iMac as a replacement. Today i like Apple even more than i did. Customer service is a wonderful thing.

SneakerKings, bugs and butterflys

Welcome to a new year. After the Christmas mayhem, lets get on track with some lovely ads by Leo Burnett in Germany for SneakerKings - apparently a a sneaker store