Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving

 Please Like Me…3 ways to improve your business fanbase on Facebook first published in Money Magazine May/June Issue

Amit Raab is Head of Digital and Social Media
at Ogilvy Malta.
So you’ve got a business page on Facebook. Simply having a presence on Facebook might be good promotion for your brand, but what’s a Facebook page without fans?

 The average Facebook user is connected to around 80 pages or groups. In today’s world the Facebook user is spoilt for choice on which fan pages to like and which to ignore. A visit from a potential client on your Facebook page is valuable but not as valuable as their ‘like’.

When a Facebook user ‘likes’ your business page their opinion of you will be published on all of their friend’s walls, utilising the networking power of the medium. More importantly though, when a user adds your business page, it will give you a direct channel to contact them with updates or information, creating a focused communication to an interested audience.

Once your business presence is established on Facebook, here are 3 ways you can boost your fan count without spending a single dime.

You can bring some much needed attention to your page by being an active member of the Facebook community surrounding your industry. Find industry relevant pages and users on Facebook, entities which would be accessed by potential clients and industry influencers such as competitors or industry bloggers. Now interfere, interact, react and provoke.
Take for example a competitors page, which has just been targeted with a support question from their current client. A simple answer to his question from yourself would shift attention to your business page and promote your presence on this medium to all of the competitor’s clients.

Allowing your social media representative to work alternative work hours might also be beneficial. Statistics from a BuddyMedia research study show fans engaged 20% more with a brand that posted content outside of normal office hours.

Give Fans something non-Fans can’t have
This is the most obvious way to ensure potential clients do not just browse your page but join it, it gives them a reason to join. Here are three simple ways to achieve this, firstly you can use the update function to send exclusive information news and even voucher codes to your fans. Another way is to provide promotions and competitions that only fans will be entered in such as voucher raffles or quizzes. Finally, the most rich and creative way to do this is to use Facebook applications which use the ‘fangate’ function. This function transforms an application once users have ‘liked’ the page. This means that you can have an entire media rich site or special application waiting for users to explore but only if they ‘like’ your page.

Promote and be Proud
Make sure you promote your page on all marketing materials, emails and communications. All it takes is a simple Facebook icon since your target audience is interested in learning more and are Facebook ready. Facebook’s penetration in Malta is now at 50%, meaning 200,000 users. Don’t worry if your page is in its early stages and has a low user count, if the content is there, the interested parties will follow, its not called a networking tool for nothing.

These techniques, along with a healthy interest in your own page and a rich amount of content and output to your fans will make for a very ‘like’able business page, creating a direct and visible channel to your audience.

Monday, 16 May 2011

If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.

Advertising and the brands which are built on its foundations, for those who do not know this, is a very tricky business. As David Ogilvy rightly said, “I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive.”

Today’s social media world is a place to share your successes and failures, be yourself, and let your own personal voice come out. Brands, like people, have a “voice”. The world of the brand has become such a specific and exclusive field that it has its own mechanics of operations, its own experts to seek advice from and its own distinct significance not just in the arena of marketing but also in the entire dimension of branding the product.

Great companies are investing a great deal in their advertising fully aware of the manifold benefits and returns that it brings back to their brand and the role it plays in entrenching and extending brand equity. The value of business, and the returns for shareholders, are at their highest expression when brands are properly constructed. For that purpose, many successful organisations are now seeking the succor of brand experts to engineer the brand platform and its attendant constituent parts.

Dean Crutchfield wrote an excellent piece this week in Advertising Age called ‘Brands Fuel Democracy’

As the wee bald man from Glasgow's West End said, "The efficient half eats the less efficient half and grows stronger. War is just a violent way of doing what half the people do calmly in peacetime: using the other half for food, heat, machinery and sexual pleasure. Man is the pie that bakes and eats himself, and the recipe is separation."

The 'good' or 'well-meaning' brand, is a distraction from the product, from what we buy, and deflects attention on to more esoteric levels of the exchange process. It's more about who we are. That's not just self-image. It's a question of values. And, it makes you feel better about the purchase, it's supplementing an emotional reaction to buying the product for an emotional reaction around the purchase. More social responsibility in the purchase is only desirable if it helps sell the product. If brands are a symbol of the 'West' then what do McDonald's, Coca Cola and Malboro say about the superpower Brand America? The ultimate brand for "fueling freedom and democracy" is the country brand of the United States itself, based on a 'dream' of prosperity tied to America still holding the brand position as the world’s land of opportunity. With the recession, America’s promise that “the future is what you make it” has been diluted.

Perception, as they say, is everything in this context. Last year's Greek debt crisis resulted in an almost 20 percent global equity market correction even though the small economy of Greece accounted for only 3 percent of the combined Eurozone GDP. By contrast, the recent rise in oil prices of almost 20 percent (since end 2010) as a result of the ongoing Middle East unrest has resulted in a 2-3 percent negative impact on the global equity market so far. Greece has a weak country brand, and suffers accordingly at the hands of the markets.

The fact is that brand reach is still heavily concentrated, and the primary focus for the 'good' brand is in the United States itself. About 300 million Americans consume US$10 trillion a year and 1.3 billion Chinese consumed only around US$1.5 trillion a year. Add another billion Indian consumers, many of whom are in the rising middle class, and we have an additional US$500 billion in consumption – not nearly enough to offset US demand. Brand's values appeal most to those that spend with them. Brands have been the key to increase domestic consumption share as a proportion of GDP in the US and this phenomena has its own set of dangers, look at the credit card debt and personal bankruptcy rate. This engineering of the brand to face the market is not necessarily in the best interests of the consumer, no matter how skillfully the value bundle is packaged, nor the fact that a portion of the sale goes to worthy causes.

My take is that the 'West' has to hang onto brands, and can do so only by making the entry level for the non-brand owner prohibitively high. Contract manufacturers in Asia enjoy 10% or less of the profits arising from strong Western brands. Western brand owners are able to walk away with vast sums, simply through leveraging the power of brand. The illusions of freedom that accompany brands are simply that, illusions. There is no freedom in 10%, but a lot of potential freedom in enjoying 90% of the profits. I understand that on an ideological level this is not where you are putting emphasis, but keeping a leadership on brand thinking is crucial for the West, as it is a key economic differentiator being able to manage brands and the process of branding versus the rise of Asia as an economic centre. If sustainability and social marketing tie-ins keep the $10 trillion growing, then that is the price of brand leadership.

Asian brands must find a voice that is authentic to consumers around the world. Until they do, it will be a case of knocking-off cheap imitations of brands that have already won the hearts and minds of millions. As Mr. Ogilvy clearly stated in the headline above, copying does not do the business. Although places like Korea are doing well in creating a regional music industry with Hollywood-like production values for their videos and other spin-offs from that industry, it is a means to en end, to secure corporate sponsorship (aka advertising dollars) for the music celebrities being cloned in Korea. Deeply driven by the advertising process David Ogilvy’s thinking has helped his agency to bill billions of dollars of communication services to clients in pursuit of memorability, originality, long-lasting impact and strong business results. This is also probably why Ogilvy sounded disdainful of creative 'for creative's sake' (“if it doesn’t sell it isn’t creative”), because he had long perfected a scientific way of determining a brand's X and Y axes. It worked for his agency and his clients.

Ogilvy, the BBC of the branding business, enjoys a strong brand in the business of branding. His vision of Ogilvy&Mather as a creative powerhouse is very much alive today. Whatever the trends in brand engineering, there will always be space for winning hearts and minds anew using advertising. Advertising is still driving the financial performances of many businesses around the world, which is why some half a trillion dollars of wise money was invested in it during 2010.

Edwin Ward 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for." - Ray Bradbury

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Why it now matters that tomorrow is only a day away.

Edwin Ward, Director of Ogilvy Malta
We have taken a step to change our business model as an advertising agency, and have formed a relationship with a technology partner and a telco, to create a cluster. This is a first for an agency that has relied on creating high-quality products to place in media channels. 

Traditional advertising agencies face significant technical challenges driven by what is happening to consumers. The Maltese consumer is no different to any other consumer. Until recently, PBS’s 8:00pm News commanded the largest single audience for advertisers, at an average of 150,000 viewers per evening. But there’s 217,000 Maltese on facebook, and 1.5 million page views per day on putting that 150,000 average to shame. More, there’s 123% mobile penetration in Malta, meaning there’s almost 500,000 handsets out there which can take a commercial message to you at any time of the day or night. Consumers have turned away from media channels that built the agency industry and have moved toward emerging internet and mobile media.  Advertising agencies must build new interactive competencies quickly in order to survive, which is why we have formed part of a “cluster”.

Clients are beginning to ask how social media marketing will impact their current business model and what it means for their marketing investment.

Social media is changing the way everyone does business, let’s look at some changes:

A paradigm shift for how new business is acquired. According to a recent survey, 80% of decision makers say they found the vendor, not the other way around. Instead of finding your prospects, the “new” new business paradigm for Marketing 2.0 is to help your prospective clients find you. It’s a sophisticated game of hide and seek.

SEO is now a critical part of new business strategy. 80-90% of business to business transactions begin with a search on the web. That means that SEO is a very important component to your new business programme if you are in B-2-B.

A blog is a necessary component for marketing your your brand and its promise. It wasn’t that long ago that it became understood, every business needed a website. Today it’s, every business needs a blog. Who will give you a believable voice online?

The growth of new media mandates a new kind of relationship with your advertising agency. Social media is now mainstream, and late last year Ogilvy Malta took the first step to becoming Facebook’s only official marketing partner on the islands. I can’t imagine ever advising a client to deal with an advertising, PR, or interactive team that doesn’t get social media.

As David Ogilvy always said in his vision for our company: “Encourage innovation. Change is our lifeblood, stagnation our death knell.”

Monday, 28 February 2011

David Ogilvy’s “if it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative” is 100% more relevant today as we mark his 100th year with this blog

Edwin Ward, Director of Ogilvy Malta
David Ogilvy’s name is bandied around on the internet and appears in the advertising press with a frequency and regularity that is very surprising, given that the man has not worked in the business in over a decade. Sadly, David passed away at the grand old age of 88 in the summer of 1999, it was sweltering hot in Malta that day when the unhappy news came through on July 21. David, a British advertising man in a foreign country, had been my beacon for a number of years. He was a Scot and proud of it. Me too. He had an eclectic background before joining the ranks of advertising professionals. Me too. He was interested in research and great work, especially with the pen. Me too. He was devoted to getting business results for clients. Me too. He believed in brands. Me too. And he made his career outside the UK. Guess what? Me too. So this affinity led to my opening the Ogilvy signature office in Malta, and spending years patiently explaining to prospective clients how to pronounce “Oh, gil, vi”. The phonetic method being the only means of knowledge transfer in this part of the Mediterranean at that time. But I find that David and I now have something else in common. And it is this thing that seems to be his greatest legacy. It defines him. It keeps him alive, in spirit. You see, in the last few years, I have become an educator (a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta, teaching ‘Branding’ in one form or another), and that role of educator is David’s primary contribution to today’s business community.

Nowadays there are a few more Brits in the advertising industry in Malta since the days when we launched the agency here. Mostly they work with us. Malta’s marvelous English language credentials have not yet begun to deliver for the creative industries in the Mediterranean, but one day this will be the Singapore of the Med, and it will be the expats who finally pull Mediterranean advertising up to the heights that much of Asia now enjoys. David was the ultimate educator. And I don’t mean his ‘Magic Lanterns’, nor his advertising rules, all that stuff about no reversed type, putting the client's name in the headline, the consumer isn't stupid, she's your wife, humour is for clowns, etc, etc, leading up to the ultimate "carved-in-stone" edict, if it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative. David, God bless him, was the greatest articulator of his own thought, in 3 fascinating books, as well as in thousands of memos that he bombarded his partners with over the years. For a man of such stature in our industry, Ogilvy has had few biographers. In fact, at one time, before the idea for this blog came along, I was mulling pitching our CEO, Miles Young, about having O&M commission me to write a new biography of David. That’s because my colleague Nigel Leyson and I have been discussing David’s relevance to agency life in the 21st century for the last 6 years, and we find in our daily work that David is more relevant today than ever before, because we are surrounded by crass, moronic drivel masquerading as advertising on this beautiful isle. And so, with true missionary zeal, we set out to change that while wondering what David would have done at every step along the way.

David wrote long copy, “Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating”. There was a famous advertisement for an obscure bar of soap that ran to over 2000 words. A feat of Olympian proportions. That the brand is now world famous, and extended to every personal care line imaginable, is just part of the man’s legacy. David walked around Unilever’s factory and interrogated the living bejesus out of the scientists and technicians who worked there. Spotting a vat of industrial goo he demanded to know what was in it, and was told “stearic acid”. “Isn’t that what goes into cold cream?” he demanded. And there you have the birth of Dove, one of Ogilvy’s biggest sales ideas. “Only Dove is one quarter moisturizing cream”. Research that turned an ordinary bar of soap into a beauty bar, “It creams your skin while you wash” exemplified the key benefit of softer, less dry skin. Side-by-side face tests demonstrated the difference, and on TV cleansing cream was poured into a plastic Dove-shaped mold. Being better informed, led to the insight that fed the creative work, and the creative work drives the market. And kept driving it until it became a billion plus brand sold from Boston to Bombay. Over the years, this campaign helped grow Dove into the number-one cleansing brand in the world. All of it emanating from the original positioning decision taken by the Scotsman in red braces.

In another apotheosis, David researched the strategy for a beverage entering the US market and then had a big idea on the train and became so excited he telephoned the agency to tell them about it. It was a massive double-page spread showing a dozen beautifully illustrated oysters and a dozen ways to consume them, under the headline, “Guinness Guide to oysters”. It was a piece of such quality that the brand could only bask in its brilliance and the resulting upswing in the fortunes of Ireland’s most famous export which led to a series, Guinness Guide to steak, game birds, cheese and so on that paired the brand with gastronomy and good living. This classic gem was one of a handful of advertisements that made David Ogilvy a name in the heart of that bastion of advertising, Madison Avenue in the 1950’s. Yes, the product truly became the hero in these advertising executions, and they allow intelligent people to read them after 60 years and still find something of the connoisseur’s personality in them. The products were not treated like every other product, they were supported by claims and facts that give dimensionality, personality, to these goods. A slew of advertisements for Hathaway shirts, some theatre was required to attract the reader’s attention, leading to the invention of a much talked-about eye-patch for the actor Baron Wrangell, who starred as “the man in the Hathaway shirt” with his instantly recognisable and mysterious black eye-patch. This series of advertisements is often referred to as the birth of brand personality, and it’s intriguing to consider that David was creating differentiation not only on product attributes but also for the first time on brand personality attributes too. It was a double-whammy that lifted Hathaway from obscurity into profitable growth that lasted over 20 years. Story appeal.

His claim as a creative force is further strengthened by the authoring of the advertisement that many argue contains the greatest headline ever written in automobile advertising, his pitch for Rolls Royce, "At 60 mph, the loudest noise in this Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock". One of my own personal favourites is the campaign for the British Tourist Authority run in the USA. David was the architect of Britain’s image, the way we package and present ourselves. Leaf through the collaterals that promote Britain abroad and the same images tend to predominate: Beefeaters, castles, pipers in kilts, girls in Welsh costume, stately homes and thatched cottages – British history and culture served between two big slices of heritage. Tourist Britain is the product of that canny Scottish advertising executive. All the advertisements followed a similar pattern: one large image, a long headline and a lot of copy. “Tread softly past the long, long sleep of kings”, shows Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey, with some Shakespearean prose: 'Three monarchs rest here now. Henry, Elizabeth and Mary. Such are their names in sleep. No titles. No trumpets. The banners hang battle-heavy and becalmed . . .' It’s from the same well as British poet Philip Larkin’s “An Arundel Tomb”. I was at TEDxValletta the other day and someone ended their presentation by quoting W. B. Yates, “Tread softly because you tread upon my dreams” so you can see where Ogilvy was coming from on this. Judging by the numbers crossing the Atlantic eastwards, all this beautiful writing was lapped up by Americans. Fortunately, David had an enormous reservoir of it - other advertisements included: 'How to sit on the grass and watch cricket' which read: 'The time is almost any Saturday in summer. The place . . . almost any English village. And the game is cricket, with the blacksmith hitting boundaries off the Duke's bowling.' This image continues to endure, take a look at anything put out by the British Tourist Authority in the last couple of years. Just like Dove this campaign is still going strong 60 years later. David’s influence continues to echo around the world. Brand image applied to a part of a country’s service portfolio, now there was a big idea. But the campaign which Ogilvy said helped change the image of a country, and was his proudest achievement, came in the form of a campaign for Puerto Rico, at a time when the concept of Nation Branding had not even been coined.

We decided that we would start this blog to mark David’s 100th birthday, which will be on June 23 this year, since the proposal we sent into network global headquarters about celebrating David’s life went unanswered. It would be great if some of those who knew David could contribute to this site, and it would also be appreciated if those who work at WPP and Ogilvy could contribute too. But it’s also a place for anyone who wants to share their thoughts about David, his life and work. Posts are welcome in every form, writing, visuals, video, songs, poems, photos, cartoons, memorabilia, journalism, old advertisements and TVC’s, rap, anything you feel contributes to the mix.

So what was David? A nerdy planner? A suave suit? A creative “God”? A clever businessman? Anyone who works in a small agency, and we know because we’re the smallest outfit in the Ogilvy empire, will know that you have to multi-task and be proficient in a number of skills sets. You wind up doing a bit of everything. That was David, but when he did a little of anything he did it brilliantly, never more so than when he hired people who were as good as, if not better than him, and then left them to get on with it. As a founder and owner he was an inspired business leader. “If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger then you are, we shall become a company of giants.” When the company was sold to WPP for close to a billion dollars in 1989 it was a bargain, and it has not only grown in value but has been the cornerstone that underpins WPP’s growth. David spent 3 years as WPP’s chairman, “Senior men have no monopoly on great ideas. Nor do creative people. Some of the best ideas come from account executives, researchers and others. Encourage this; you need all the ideas you can get”. You will also find in a relatively long career in this business that you pick up a bit of everything along the way, a “generalist” as David coined it, and David’s days selling Aga stoves door-to-door and then at both Mather & Crowther in London, as well as heading Gallup’s Audience Research Institute at Princeton, laid the foundations for proficiency in a talent that had matured by the time Ogilvy, Benson and Mather was launched in New York in 1948.

David was probably the most influential advertising man in history, and I assume millions of people have made their own fortunes based on the business education he provided, and which is his greatest legacy. On the 10th anniversary of David departing for that big red agency in the sky, Patricia Sellers at Fortune Magazine told a story about meeting David at a convention in 1991, and asking him what his advice for building and running a business would be. The answer was scrawled in pencil on a note that she kept in a drawer of her desk for 18 years, and it said this:

1. Remember that Abraham Lincoln spoke of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He left out the pursuit of profit.

2. Remember the old Scottish motto: "Be happy while you're living, for you are a long time dead."

3. If you have to reduce your company's payroll, don't fire your people until you have cut your compensation and the compensation of your big-shots.

4. Define your corporate culture and your principles of management in writing. Don't delegate this to a committee. Search all the parks in all your cities. You'll find no statues of committees.

5. Stop cutting the quality of your products in search of bigger margins. The consumer always notices -- and punishes you.

6. Never spend money on advertising which does not sell.

7. Bear in mind that the consumer is not a moron. She is your wife. Do not insult her intelligence.”

Ogilvy & Mather is built on David Ogilvy's principles, in particular, that the function of advertising is to sell and that successful advertising for any product is based on information about its consumer. Principles that, at least in my own mind, are the holy grail of the advertising industry.

"When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it 'creative.' I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product."

In the next 100 years, will there be anyone in the advertising industry as revered as David Ogilvy is today?