Friday, 21 September 2012

Samsung's new commercial takes on Apple. Very cool.

I have to say, I don't like Samsung and particularly following their recent court case. But hats off when you see a great marketing response to the Apple Iphone 5.

Under the headline, "the next big thing is already here", this Samsung commercial has a go at Apple fanatics - but in an uber cool way. During the commercial it points out all the product problems with the Iphone - marketing language being one, location of the new headphone jack, the new dock connector, the lack of NFC but most importantly, showing the Iphone as a phone that your parents will probably want.

And how uncool is that.

It's a classic strategy of pointing out the clear product differences and at the same time, bringing the Samsung Galaxy into coolness. A commercial that almost has the same "look and feel" as Apple and with the same brand values.

It's probably targeting long term Iphone users who maybe, are looking for a change. And there is probably a market for that. But I think more importantly, it's putting Samsung on the techy map.

The Ad Agency was '72+sunny' whom I've never heard of, but so what. It was directed by Michael Downing who simply has to have Irish roots with a name like that and whose work I do know from the terrific Shreddies "Diamond" spoofs.

If you haven't seen them have a look. A great dig at research. Rory Sutherland presents them at a TED talk and it's just magnificent. Rory is with Ogilvy. Worth your while to view the whole talk too on youtube. Clearly Michael knows how to direct when the commercial is focused on people. 

So well done to Michael and them all at Samsung.
I don't like the brand, but you've made me think again.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Yahoo! gets nearly 8 billion for its 40% share in Alibaba. Open Sesame?

Yahoo! has sold it's 40% stake in Alibaba for 7.6 billion USD. You may never of heard of them, but Alibaba is huge. Yahoo! on the other hand, is a one-time world dominant search engine that lost its way, post-google.

After tax that's 4.3 billion usd net, of which 3.6 billion will be returned to Yahoo shareholders who, after all, have had to endure a lot of pain.

Not bad, given they bought their shareholding in 2005 for 1 billion usd.

It's the first big news following the appointment of Marissa Mayer as Yahoo CEO. And people are watching to see what she'll do with the money.

Alibaba is basically the Chinese version of Ebay with a valuation of circa 40 billion usd and a claimed, 79 million registered users. China is limited with physical internet access but as more bandwith becomes available, the site will show natural growth.

The deal has been on and been off over the last 2 years and now makes Alibaba a totally private company. It has been flagged that Alibaba will float on the stock market (IPO) within 3 years. It also allows Yahoo now to have an influx of cash and allows Mayer the freedom to purchase start-ups, part of her vision for the company. Pinterest and Foursquare are the hot rumours, but then, they always are.

It's a fairly amazing amount of money, although the deal is more complex that I've shown, in this day and age. Pointing again, to high values for online businesses. Simple ideas can bring high results.

Of course it wasn't a core business for Yahoo, which is basically in Search and under more threat now from Facebook who will be entering that market. Yahoo needs to reshape itself and venture more into Social Media to rebuild the once-great brand it was.

If this is a sign of clever thinking on behalf of Marissa Mayer, then that's a good signal for Yahoo. But it's what she does next that will really make Yahoo sink or swim.

Open sesame.
Too cheesy?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Muslim Rage. Newsweek's Twitter. Another fine mess.

Recent Muslim protests about the You Tube video (which you can see here , prompted Newsweek to run a cover story "Muslim Rage: How I survived it, how we can end it" as a serious attempt to start a debate on Muslim tolerance. Or lack of it.

But an old world publication like Newsweek, showed little understanding of Social Media and invited responses on a hashtag 'muslimrage' in order to promote debate. And boy did they get a response....

"I'm having such a good hair day. No one even knows. (hash)MuslimRage". Was one.

"Lost your kid Jihad at the airport. Can't yell for him. (hash)MuslimRage". Another.

"Head & Shoulders still hasn't made a beard conditioner. (hash)MuslimRage"

Newsweek covers and hashtags are to "spark debate" said a Newsweek press release and indeed they are. It was the most trending topic in the USA on Monday with 75,000 tweets that very afternoon.

Actually too, some of it was funny. Although not intended to be, clearly, it helped "break the ice" as it turned out and some Muslims responding in a funny way too. 

Interestingly, a number of Arab sites are giving out about the image on the cover not the tweets. Ironic.

Brands like Newsweek, need to understand that once they enter Social Media and notoriously Twitter, they automatically lose control of their brand. You hand it over. 

There's no problem with that, provided you know what to expect. In this case it had the risk of making things worse, not better. And a dangerous game to play given the underlying mayhem that this issue has caused.

But it could also have given the public a chance to tell Newsweek, on Newsweeks own twitter account, why they hated the publication. It's that loss of brand control that's an issue.

The lesson here is don't venture onto Social, unless you understand what it is.
Brands need to understand that and this is an example how not to do it.
It can be lethal.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Facebook enters Search. One big competition for Google.

Facebook are about to enter Search.
And nobody is better placed to take on the might of Google.

Investors are nodding their heads too, giving it a thumbs up by rocketing the share price. Revenues from search, could well compensate Facebook's problems on mobile and give them a whole new Ad frontier. It's big business and perfect for Facebook.

At the moment, Facebook search is about finding people and frankly, a very poor effort, allowing you to find names only. So if you search a common name - John Smith - you'll end up with millions of results and no real way to refine them. So the engine is the moment.

However, clearly Facebook has great content. So imagine that perhaps you'd like to find a car/city/hotel which your friends like? Or a brand on Facebook your colleagues like? Anybody I know work for a company I'm about to join? and so on.

Using "likes" it can bring search into relevance by giving me results which like-minded people might suggest and recommend. In other words, not just a list of good restaurants, or indeed a list of 5 star restaurants, but rather, restaurants that my friends like and therefore I might too. Relevance.

Google returns about 3 billion searches a day. Facebook returns about 1 billion, without "even trying" says The Zuck.

"Search is interesting. We do on the order of 1 billion queries a day and we’re basically not even trying. Today with search the vast majority of it is people trying to find people, but there’s also a meaningful portion of queries where people are trying to find Pages, brand Pages, other business Pages — so there’s a bunch of that that actually does link to commercial behaviour, and I think there’s a big opportunity there and we just need to go do that." Mark Zuckerberg last Tuesday.

The betting at the moment is that Facebook Search will not be a standalone but rather incorporated better onto Facebook pages where it will live, and which makes total sense. It's an easy integration and an even easier marketing job.

In June, it already renamed its Search box from just "Search" to "Search for people, places and things", a sign of what's to come.

Facebook has a lot of work to do but it has the cash and this provides a good solution to its never ending saga of generating more revenue. It's surely a winner.

In July, Techcrunch reported that Facebook had already started to test "sponsored results" allowing advertisers access on a ppc (pay per click) basis. 

And now with Zuckerbergs comments, where as an IPO floated company he has to be real careful, we know it's coming.

Early adopters please note.
It's going to be a real opportunity for brands.

Actually when you spell check 'Zuckerberg' you get 'Knickerbockers'.
Interesting start.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Apple Iphone 5 Sells out. Two weeks waiting list. It's that old marketing trick again - create scarcity.

The use of "scarcity" as a marketing trick is one that has gone on for decades. In olden times, shop keepers would pay customers to form queues which in turn, got the attention of passing trade whom also wanted to join the queue.

A well known Irish travel agency did exactly that, each Christmas. Paid customers to queue over the Holiday, generating both PR and a sense of scarcity for their product - if it's going this quick, you'd better get one now!

Apple are the masters of this trick since they started.

The Iphone 5 launch has become the latest victim.

Seemingly, we're told, demand was just so huge, the phone sold out. You might know that the Iphone 4 sold out in 20 hours and the Iphone 4S in 22 hours. You'd think with that experience, Apple would have multiplied its stock levels for the iphone 5? But that wouldn't be the point. They have stock, they just want to create demand. 

Not a chance of getting one now we're told, it has sold out in 60 minutes, 20 times faster than the Iphone 4S so now, you've a two week wait minimum - scarcity.

I have no doubt the Iphone 5 launched well, but that was to be expected because of all the chatter. However, I don't expect anyone with a brain in their head to think the demand wasn't anticipated and this "sold out" nonsense, is something more than that. But yep, online hacks everywhere are buying into it! 

Fairly astute Techcrunch goes with the headline that this sell out shows "Apple's dominance". They should know better. It's a trick, nothing more, to show success and create what we call "pent up demand". I quote:

"I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore that Apple product launches somehow continue to exceed expectations, the machine reliably churning out another hit. But I am. Mostly because of how rampant the obsession is to buy the next generation of iPhone as soon as possible".

Oh dear Techcrunch.

I'll bet the next one sells out as fast too. 
Nobody, least of all me, disputes Apple's greatness and worthy of its high value. Equally there's no doubt, the Iphone 5 will be a huge success and compete properly with Samsung.

But I've no doubt too, you're seeing the oldest marketing trick in action.
Start a queue, you'll create a demand.
Job done.
And everyone falls for it - again.