Category Archives: Brands

Ad agencies transforming. As discussed.

About 10 months ago I posted this following an essay by Edelman‘s Jackie Cooper. Jackie’s essay was called “Why It’s Time for Ad Agencies to Admit defeat” and in it she claimed (as many people have done over the past few years) that PR agencies rather than ad agencies were the ones best placed to take advantage of the brave new world of communications.

My point was that she was ignoring the fact that ad agencies might be able to adapt and evolve, and also the not insignificant advantage that they already hold the vast majority of a client’s marketing budget and therefore had the relatively simpler task of persuading a client to spend it in a different way.

This morning I read this piece in The Guardian: “Digital technology and social networking breathe new life into advertising.”

Wonderful thing, evolution.

Badge engineering at its worst

asus_lam_1Badge engineering is a phrase used in the motor industry…it describes attempts to make a duff car more attractive by sticking a racier badge on it. OK, so in some cases it’s more than aesthetic and some genuine engineering is involved (think McLaren Mercedes) but not in all (think MG Metro).

The Asus Lamborghini is, to my mind, a pretty cynical attempt to sex up the dull PC. The flimsiness of the proposition is reflected in the guff on the Micro Anvika website. Check this out:

“With poetic precision and atelier craftsmanship, the ASUS-LAMBORGHINI VX5 is a fitting tribute to the LAMBORGHINI Reventón. It is the superlative of avant garde design, one that triggers the primeval senses for exhilaration and power.”

Christ.

Thing is, I’m sure it’s a very good PC, so why try and dress it up with a Lamborghini badge?

Funnily enough, having bought a MacBook a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been holding forth on the whole PC vs. Mac debate over on the Edelman Tech blog. Another case of the PC world trying its hardest to be cool and in doing so looking like the geek in Prada shades?

Kids’ telly of a morning

This post started from one place and ended up in another.  I love that.

shreddies_knitted200.jpgAs a father of a couple of young children – mine are five and three – I’m something of an aficionado of morning kids’ telly, particularly the Milkshake! segment on Channel Five.  Some great programmes (all highly educational, I might add…sort of) and nice cheery presenters.  My favourite is Jen, the young upstart threatening the established trio of Naomi, Kemi and Beth (I see they’ve kept Jen’s song off the album).  But I digress.

Being a commercial channel, Five carries advertisements and of course we’re well into Christmas stuff now.  Having said that, one of my current favourites is the ad for Shreddies…the “knitted by nanas” one which, as you might have guessed, explains that each and every Shreddie is knitted by a lovely kind nana.  I like it so much that I was prompted this morning to visit the website, www.knittedbynanas.com

It’s been very well done.  There’s a bit of loading to deal with, but it kept me distracted for about 20 minutes which can’t be bad.  My favourite is the games area.  Nana vs. Robots didn’t grab me too much, the Skip Challenge appeared a little dull initially but the changing pace of the rope added to the challenge, Teabag Fling was compelling but ultimately frustrating (you get your power sorted and then screw up the angle!) and Slipper Slide is a joy.  It’s definitely worth a look.

Now to the other place.  While I was thinking about the ads, I recalled one which, frankly, disturbs me.  It’s that animatronic pony called Butterscotch.  That thing freaks me out.  “Don’t worry,” Thea tells me, “it’s not real.  It’s got batteries in its tummy.”

Looking around for a Butterscotch clip I was chuffed to find that I’m not the only one who finds Butterscotch a bit weird.  David Letterman does too…and you can see a very amusing video here.

“Take that, you lousy nag.”

Simply brilliant brand

rapha-dm.jpgI received a lovely piece of direct mail yesterday.  And it’s not often that those words pass my lips (or my fingers).

Here’s a picture of it.  It’s from one of my favourite brands - Rapha - which makes fantastic, top quality cycling clothing.  So it’s a bit of a niche thing.  But I’m into my niches. 

Rapha’s very much an aspirational brand for me (I’m into my cycling at the moment, too).  In fact, it’s completely aspirational as I don’t own a single piece of Rapha kit!  It’s quite pricey…but you just know it’s going to be worth the money.  I spoke to a bloke once who’d tried on one of Rapha’s jackets.  He said that on the peg it all looked a little odd – long arms and back, zip off centre – but when you put it on and sat on a bike it was just perfect.  Then his eyes glazed over.  It’s that sort of stuff.

Is this sounding a bit sad?

It’s just that Rapha hits so many spots with me that I can’t think of another brand with which I have the same sort of relationship.  I can remember quite vividly the first time I read about the company – an article in Management Today a few years back.  I visit the company’s website and drool regularly.  And now I’ve got a lovely little A5 booklet I can tuck under my pillow.

Everything about the brand is understated.  The clothing itself, obviously (none of your day-glo lycra here) but everything else reflects that too.  The website’s great.  It captures the passion that some of us (and I’m by no means as bad as it gets) have for cycling with some fantastic editorial content and images.  The DM piece is exactly the same (as you’d expect).  The first 18 of its 31 pages contain some brilliant photos and an article written by Tim Krabbe, a Dutch novelist well-known in cycling circles for his classic book The Rider.  Only then are a few of the products presented.  Cool.  It even smells great.

The fella who founded Rapha, Simon Mottram, used to be a brand consultant, so you might expect him to get it right.  But he’s also a fanatical cyclist, which I think is just as important.  Honestly, I’m racking my brain and I can’t think of another brand that’s so compelling.  Well, to me, at least.  It’s obviously an individual thing based on personality and passions – I’d love to know if anyone else has a similar relationship with any other brands?

Anyway, if anyone’s wondering what to get me for Christmas…

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