RADvertising: 3 brands that get benevolence

First off, I’m going to be totally honest: I didn’t come up with the idea of benevolent brands – it’s been around the past few years.  Even worse, I had to google “define benevolent” to even understand what the word benevolent even meant at first!  I’ve since discovered that I’m not the only one, so for those of you who suck at Scrabble too, here you go:

Benevolent (adjective):  “well-meaning and kindly” and “an organization serving a charitable rather than a profit-making purpose.

In the past month there’s been a surge in brands doing cool, benevolent things that take them beyond their core categories (cars, dog food, vodka) – and into an adjacent space that might not make them rich, but certainly make their brand proposition stronger. 

The one you’ve probably seen mentioned the most is Volvo’s “LifePaint.”  The boxy family car that’s synonymous with “safety” has deepened its commitment to safety by creating a spray that can be used on bikes, backpacks and clothing so they become reflective at night (but look no different in daylight).  Apparently the bike shops that sell it are receiving hundreds of phone calls a day about it.  Whilst Volvo isn’t in the bike business, it is in the business of safe driving and this initiative has got people talking about the brand again.

Similarly, dog food Pedigree has launched Pedigree Found – an app that lets dog owners notify if their pet has gone missing, and in conjunction, Google Display Network will post a picture of the dog to people within a 2.5km radius of the owner – acting almost like a digital “Missing Dog” poster. So far it's only in New Zealand (and so far it only applies to missing dogs... what about us crazy cat ladies?!?!) 

And last, Absolut Vodka is elevating its 30-year connection to the art world with Absolut Art – an initiative that helps regular folks like us (I assume you’re not a high end art collector either) discover and purchase artworks from rising talent around the world.  First stop: Stockholm (of course).  It demonstrates that their commitment to artistry and creativity isn’t just lip service – it’s part of who they are as a brand.

Based on my own newsfeed of friends’ posts, the social media currency of these benevolent initiatives seems strong – and I imagine they have a good deal of PR value as well.  The beauty is they manage to strengthen the brand without resorting to traditional forms of advertising… and do some good for the world at the same time.

What do you think… Is it all hippy-dippy feel good stuff with little reach and impact?  Or something every brand needs to be investigating?  

BADvertising: TIDAL - what were they thinking?! Oh wait...

It's been about a month now since music streaming service and Spotify/Pandora competitor TIDAL launched with much fanfare, including an over-the-top yet dreadfully dull press conference with some of music's top stars (Jay-Z, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyonce, Kanye).  Most looked like they were embarrassed or bored to be there.  Madonna acted out (shock!) as she approached the table to sign the "declaration of independence" for the music industry.   Sadly, it was the highlight of the ego-fest:   

Last week it was reported the app had already fallen out of the top 700 downloaded iphone apps chart.

We downloaded it and were disappointed immediately in what we saw - and the lack of a freemium model for us to get into it.  A 30 day free trial is offered, but you have to enter your credit card information?  We all know the frustration that will bring when we forget to cancel.  

All of this leads us to ask:  What were they thinking?  Oh wait... maybe they weren't.  Here's a few reasons why:

1. A main selling point of the service has been "high fidelity music streaming."  With the quality of speakers today and the lowering cost of even a Bose portable speaker, does anyone actually feel the audio quality of digital music is so bad that it's worth paying $24 a month?  (Standard sound quality is only $12 a month, the same as Spotify).  High Fidelity is the same as "CD quality" --- problem is, most Gen Ys today don't have a strong recollection of what a CD sounded like.  And how did they pick those prices?  It feels like someone just said "High Fidelity?  Double it."  as the pricing strategy.    

2.  The positioning of the brand as a revolutionary new service ("the future of music" was uttered multiple times) that is going to save the music industry feels pompous and quite frankly, satisfying no real need.  Comparing yourself to a revolution before it's even begun is pretty foolhardy.  People don't buy into such bombastic statements anymore.   We're too smart and sceptical.  

3.  #TIDALforALL as the official hashtag doesn't feel much like a manifesto for democracy but more like a command from marketers to consumers.  It wants to be democratic but the launch event felt aristocratic.  It would've been better to bring independent musicians onto the stage, or had each celebrity partner with an up and coming artist so that we would feel our money was going to someone who needs it.  

We can't help but think this entire service, and the go-to-market strategy, was designed without any consumer co-creation or collaboration / feedback.  Did they test the idea?  Did they test MULTIPLE ideas?  Did they speak with consumers currently using Spotify and Pandora to see what their Achilles heels were?  

This is all stuff that a bit of research and insights could've helped predict... and prevent.  

You don't need to be an insights professional to be able to read this body language!

Posted on April 29, 2015 and filed under BADvertising.

BADvertising: Pie Face - what happened to a rising Aussie brand?

A few weeks ago in Nerang, QLD whilst headed to the Gold Coast theme parks, we spotted a strange sight:  a freestanding Pie Face store.  Something just felt horribly wrong about it, mostly: does Pie Face really sell enough or offer enough of an experience to justify its own building (complete with drive through?).  

If anything, Pie Face has been disappointing over the years.   I'll never forget one late buzzy night on Oxford St when I went to order the tandoori vegetable pie (one of the few options for vegetarians available) and asked to receive the same sale discount they were offering on 3 of their most popular meat pies, knowing full well the cost (both economically and environmentally) to produce a beef pie is much more than a vegetable pie.  But the gal at the counter said she couldn't sell it to me for the discounted price.  

Needless to say I was livid (and drunk - never a good combination).  I'd been going to Pie Face frequently for years - you could say I was a "high volume customer" - aka valuable to the business.  But because the employee wasn't empowered to act on her own, she lost my business and I've never been back.  

Pie Face's financial troubles have been well-documented already, citing too-aggressive expansion plans overseas, high rents and declining sales.  But overall to us it's also about the lack of innovation - sure they added mushy peas and mashed potato as a "stack"... but compared to other quick service outlets like Macca's and Subway who are always launching new products, Pie Face has always felt a bit stagnant.   Which is sad really, because I was a fan once, a major advocate.   And now, I'm feeling just a bit like Tyra:

I would love to be "surprised and delighted" by Pie Face once again - but until then it's dirty street kebabs for me.


RADvertising: Shot on iPhone 6

We know it's totally trite to use Apple as an example of RADvertising, but they really nailed it with this campaign.   Here's 3 reasons why:

1.  The Simplicity - One beautiful, bold image, brought to life through outdoor advertising, with the simple tagline "Shot on iPhone 6"

2.  They're Aspirational - You see the photos and think: Wow, that was shot on a phone camera.  I WANT to do that... I COULD do that.  We all have an inner-photographer waiting to become the next Annie Leibovitz (pre-financial troubles). 

3.  Variations = Engagement:  Instead of the usual 2-3 variations of an ad (or none!), there are 77 different photos used from iPhone photographers around the world - so you'll rarely see the same ad twice.  At The Insights Grill we often talk about the Internet being an endless stream of new content... this campaign almost simulates constant newness in the form of an ad.  

Posted on April 9, 2015 and filed under RADvertising.

RADvertising: Organic Valley Saves the Bros

It's so refreshing when a brand is able to take the piss out of something and have a bit of fun - especially an FMCG brand like Organic Valley.  With the recent 40 year anniversary of Saturday Night Live, ad parodies are on the top of our minds.   This ad is so good it could be on SNL.   At first we weren't sure if it was a real product however - but by clicking on the Organic Valley website it appears to be so - that's the only slight problem we had with this ad which had us wondering "Is it April fools day?"  

Posted on February 20, 2015 and filed under RADvertising.

BADvertising: Uniqlo tagline says it all... yet says nothing

A bus just drove past me with a billboard for retailer Uniqlo that simply said: "Life Wear."  Perhaps the most vacuous tagline I've seen in a long time - like they placed the two broadest terms together and called it an idea.   I've always thought of Uniqlo as the Japanese Gap and I've no doubt benefited from their uber-cheap cashmere sweaters in the past (when I lived in a cold environment that required them).   Hoping there was more to this under-statement, I went online hoping to discover a more unique, erm, I mean, Uniqlo slant.   Instead, all I found was this non-sense:  


So basically... we sell clothes.   

Pretty disappointing comms from a brand that otherwise stands out.

Posted on January 7, 2015 and filed under BADvertising.

Rosetta Stone - create a smaller world

I'm headed to Mexico in January and unfortunately in high school took French instead of Spanish (mostly because a best friend of mine took French - always a good reason for picking your classes).  But I'd like to have basic transaction-level Spanish speaking skills by the time I go - you know, enough to order a beer and express that I'm vegetarian.   

I stumbled across this recent ad from language learning software Rosetta Stone - the only brand name of language software I could name without prompting.  Famous for their yellow boxes sold at kiosks in shopping malls - they've created a piece of RADvertising that lifts the brand from being a software company to a company on a mission to make the world a smaller place.  It's very touching and with the world being in such a state of fighting and chaos, it feels like a real antidote to our problems.  You're not just learning a new language... you're creating peace, understanding and camaraderie.   

Posted on November 16, 2014 and filed under RADvertising.

The only piece of native advertising we've ever re-posted on Facebook

There are a million cat videos on the interweb but probably the best one we've ever seen comes to us on Buzzfeed from Friskies brand cat food in a video titled, "Dear Kitten."  It's an open letter told from one experienced cat to the new cat on the block.  Over the course of 3 captivating mins (yes, a whole 3 minutes - which is like a year in internet time) it manages to pull the viewer in by giving us a glimpse of the world through a cat's eyes, including the menacing threat known as "va-cuum" (a pronunciation we now use whenever cleaning the house).   

About midway through it manages a very subtle product placement of delicious Friskies wet food - deemed superior to the "dehydrated brown nibblets" designed more for astronauts than for cats.  It's a clever way to get a product message in, and it supports the entire video story line, rather than feeling jammed in there.  We posted it to Facebook knowing full well the brand managers at Friskies are gleefully watching the video view counts go up in hopes of an end of year bonus.    We don't mind - it's THAT good!  

What do you think?  Watchable for native advertising?  Would you share it?  Got any other pieces of native advertising you've considered worthy and share-able?

Tags: RADvertising, Branded Content, Video, Cats, Friskies, Viral, Funn, Buzzfeed, FMCG

Posted on October 2, 2014 and filed under RADvertising.

Why are morning talk shows in Australia so bad?

The practice of embedding infomercials into morning talk shows on Australian TV is something that's always made us scratch our heads and ask "Why God, WHY?"  Of course we understand it's one way for TV networks to make money, but we prefer when an infomercial is labeled as such on the TV guide.  For example:  it's pretty clear that the show titled "Brazil Butt Lift" is not going to involve any hard hitting news.... but when the Morning Show features segments like the one above, it's a waste of my time when I click on it and feel duped.  

Note:  The segment above is a few years old but perfectly captures the heavily scripted, inauthentic nature of these segments.

tags:  BADvertising, TV, infomercial

Posted on October 1, 2014 and filed under BADvertising.

Bread Wars and Supermarkets Behaving Badly

It seems unfair to pick on just one of our Australian duopoly supermarkets so it's an uncanny coincidence when they BOTH manage to behave badly in the same month regarding the same topic: Bread.   

Woolies is currently airing a TVC "Cheap Cheap" that features a parody of the song Rockin' Robin ("cheap cheap" replaces "tweet tweet").  It's main thrust is a tactical promotion of their 85-cent loaf of their Homebrand white bread.  Now we're all for finding a (rare) bargain on food in Australia so applaud helping out Aussie families that have kids to feed.   We also expect the deal to be hugely popular among German backpackers in hostels across the country (but not French ones of course).  

But the whole execution just feels a bit too much like a rip-off of "Down Down" from Coles.   Using language like "It's cheap, and staying cheap" is really no different from the "Down and staying down" Coles message.  Great brands aim to create real and sustainable difference - this ad, with the read signage that recalls the Coles "Down" foam finger - just blurs the two brands further together.   

Coles on the other hand was just banned from advertising bread FOR 3 YEARS(!) after the Federal Court found them guilty of misleading consumers by claiming its bread was "freshly baked in store" when in fact it was sometimes partially baked elsewhere.   We love the way Coles bakery smells so we're somewhat disheartened by this - but the moral of the story kids is one of transparency: lies, even itty bitty teeny tiny (cheap cheap!) lies will get caught.

Posted on October 1, 2014 and filed under BADvertising.

Why Brands Should Consider the Pink Dollar

Earlier this year The Insights Grill was hired by Pink Media Group to conduct the largest study of Australia's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) consumer population ever.  It's a fascinating time in history for LGBTs: Major advances are occurring like marriage equality (in NZ, almost half of the United States), an increase in transgender awareness and understanding, and more LGBT characters on TV and film than ever before.  Conversely, there are violent atrocities happening in Russia and Uganda, and to a much lesser degree, Facebook threatening to delete drag queen profiles who don't use their real names.   

What our study found is that there is a major reciprocity factor that happens when companies actively target and engage with LGBTs: "If you show you care about/respect us, we will happily return the favour."  We created a 3-part webisode series, each about 10 mins long.   Part 1 is about Why brands should consider advertising to LGBTs; Part 2 is about Best Practices of brands who are doing it well (and NOT doing it well - the name and shame wall);  Part 3 concludes with 3 strategies any brand can use to enter into the LGBT market.

We hope you enjoy - let us know what you think and if you'd like a live presentation of it to your staff we'd be happy to come in and share.   

TAGS:   RADvertising, LGBT, Selfie, Best Practices, PinkMediaGroup, The Insights Grill, Drag Queens