Friday, 1 March 2013

Mixed fortunes at daily deal sites LivingSocial and Groupon. CEO resigns and his letter is here. Both companies were stars....once.

Bizarre changes in fortune at Daily Deal sites LivingSocial and the original, Groupon, all on the same day.

LivingSocial announced today that it has raised 110 million usd in funding from largely, its original investors - so that sounds more like a "cash call" which might indicate difficulties at LivingSocial if it is. 

A memo from CEO Tim O'Shaugnessy (some Irish connection there I would think...) said it was to "build our reserves". And building they need given a loss of 650 million usd in 2012 up from a loss of 499 million the previous year. Over a billion usd in losses in two years.

It cut its staff by 10% (400) at the time with reports in December that it was "running dangerously low of cash". With losses like that, it's not sustainable.

On the other side, Groupon, the 4 year old, daily-deal-market-maker, fired its co-founder Andrew Mason who was also CEO (that's him above with the cat). It came just 24 hours after reporting bad numbers again for Q1 bring a 25% drop in share value. Now down -75% since it floated which 'Forbes' magazine calls 'The Groupon Disgrace' and said "talk about a CEO who no longer has any credibility with investors". Strong stuff.

Mashable posted his staff resignation letter which actually, I liked.

(This is for Groupon employees, but I’m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)
People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.
You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company – it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.
For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be – I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.
If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!
I will miss you terribly.

Groupon was the worst performing stock in the US market in 2012. Shares trade below 3 usd now, from when they floated at 20 usd. 11 billion of value has been wiped out. Groupon had turned down an offer of 6 billion usd some years ago from Google. And you might remember the accounting controversy at the time of the IPO.

What interests me in both of these stories is that you'd expect, in a recession, deal sites to be doing well. After all, it's in a recession that people want a deal and all the PR was, that this was what was happening. When clearly it's not and especially not for the segment leader, Groupon.

So I'm surprised. 

But then again there could be a more simple explanation. The market is good but these two companies were lousy. It could just be that, although that would surprise me.....

It seems that's what Forbes thinks who undoubtedly contributed to Andrew Mason's demise because they're such an influential magazine. Mind you, they seem to have forgotten that at the time before the IPO they were influential too calling Groupon, "the fastest growing company, ever".

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Audrey Hepburn. She died in 1993 but she's back. Making one of the best commercials you'll ever see. Ever. Have a look here.

She may have died in 1993 but she's still making stunning commercials, beautiful Ads. Audrey Hepburn.

Chocolate Bar Galaxy (Mars), have taken footage from her film 'Roman Holiday' (1953 for which she won an Oscar) and starred with Gregory Peck

It wasn't her first film, but the role that made her and she got it after Elizabeth Taylor turned it down. In fact Peck got the role after Cary Grant turned it down too!

But they've created a new storyline for the commercial, on Italy's Amalfi Coast. Famous for a fairly breathtaking and a pretty hairy drive, the 'Amalfi Drive'.

Her family have agreed for her image to be used and just how stunning it is. Iconic. Watch and enjoy.

They've also picked a gem of a track - 'Moon River' - and in digitally restoring the footage, have added new life to it, new HD tones and it's truly magnificent to watch. 

Moon River was written for her and performed by her, in 'Breakfast at Tiffanys' (1961). Written by Henry Mancini, it was made famous by Andy Williams.

Of course it's not the first time footage has been restored for commercials,not by a long shot. That's not to take away from this imaginative, creative, stunning work.

The Griff Rhys Jones Holsten commercial (A Holsten for my Holster) stands out in my mind and the Steve Martin/Carl Reiner movie, 'Dead men don't wear plaid' is based around this very idea. You'll see 3 clips at the end and if you've time, have a look too, they're worth it.

But this one for Galaxy, is done well, really well. 

AMV BBDO London are the Agency and deserve the plaudits here.

So too, does it make the case for Video. Just look what you can do.

Only criticism is the endline about having silk not cotton which is just a pity. A real chance here to say something lovely, missed. 

But don't let that get in the way one bit. In fact I'm sorry I said it, because if you want to see that rare example of classic advertising in today's dross, this is it. BBH in their heyday would have loved to have done this.

It's just a classic in every sense and Audrey Hepburn looks so stunning, adorable. It will sell chocolate, of that, have no doubt.

(And while you're here...have a look....)

Is real advertising coming back?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Oscar night. Twitter night. 82,000 TPM's (that's 'Tweets per minute'). Oscars first ever online broadcast.

This was the first year the entire Oscar Awards show was broadcast online. 

Funny when I say that, because everyone goes, really? They expect it to have been done before which in turn shows that we need to remember just how new this digital age is.

The "Red Carpet" part of the show generated 2.1 million tweets with Jennifer Aniston's dress (in case you were wondering) the clear winner. Another 6.8 million tweets were generated during the show so an extraordinary amount of engagement on Twitter alone. It seems that viewers were more interested in the winners rather than the pre-fashion interview preview. Interesting.

The music numbers didn't disappoint with 'Skyfall' generating a lot of tweets according to Mashable. As they say, over 82,000 tpm's. TPM? Tweets per minute (I didn't know it either until tonight). Jennifer Lawrence's fall? 71,600 tpm. Anne Hathaway? 64,000 tpm.

That's per minute.......

Adele, who sings "Skyfall", is of course a big Social Media player anyway and maximises it. 

Of course Mo (that's Michelle Obama to you and me), announced the winner (as introduced by Jack Nicholson) of the Best Film (Argo) live from The White House and then tweeted this creating another Twitter stir; 

It was a thrill to announce the  best picture winner from the@WhiteHouse! Congratulations Argo! -mo

But generally this shows the interactivity between online and TV to full impact. It shows that online broadcasting is now a "standard" and that tweeting about content is pretty much old-fashioned, it is so popular and expected. The role of Social Media has now become as natural as email.

And big shows, like The Oscars, can really swing it into action.

Just a stunning night of glamour, celebrity and tweets. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Google to launch new Music streaming service. This giant is awakening.

Google really seem to have their heads up especially with the oncoming onslaught of glasses and their move into retail. It's almost like there's a new energy a Google, a new momentum?

According to the front page of this weekend's Financial Times, they're about to launch a music streaming service and The FT know because of the discussions taking place with big music labels. It will therefore compete with Deezer and Spotify.

Although there's an irony here because music labels didn't like google as they saw Search engines facilitating, music piracy.

Advertising accounts for about 95% of google's revenue so these type of services (and glasses) changes their revenue model to being based more on consumer income. No bad thing. 

Music streaming normally allows two price options - free, but be subject to advertising or, pay, and get premium music, ad-free service. With download you get to keep the tract and this "streaming" market is worth over 1.5 billion usd a the moment.

Commercial music download concepts (like Apple's itunes) is different to streaming and Google already launched a US music download store in late 2011. They also have YouTube plans for subscription music services and others (such as travel, price comparisons and so on). 

Google can easily bring these services to the Nexus tablets and their Android phones (as Apple do with Itunes on iPhone). By scrutinising consumer habits and downloads, Advertising Agencies might be well prepared to get involved with this. It could be a valuable database.

But this will give Google another string to its bow. It seems a sleeping giant is awakening....and when it does, we will feel the roar.