Friday, 1 February 2013

Amazon. Shares jump after results. Book sales +5%. But Ebook sales +70%. On the verge of greatness.

Amazon shares are moving upwards (+10%) on foot of their last Q4 quarterly results which showed a jump in operating income to 405m usd from 206m usd a year ago. Not bad, up 22%. 

Revenue rose 21% to 21 billion usd although below industry expectations, slightly......

Down 47% was its profit - down from 177m usd to 97m and that's the number that's got the headlines when in fact, the key measure should be growth and operating income. Living Social, Kindle investment and increasing distribution centres all dragged the profit down. Cloud computing services, video content (its LoveFilm video streaming on demand service) sales helped to lift it.

Operating margins were up too (the % of profit on a sale) and that bodes extremely well for the company that has struggled to make significant margins and profits over its existence. It is now on the threshold of greatness. 

Sales of books were up 5% but ebook sales were up 70% (!) and Kindle Fire being its most popular product on the site. Amazon are also forecasting +15% growth (and as high as +25%) in this quarter (Q1 2013).

The main driver is the Kindle and the transition from printed books to ebooks. Like Apple's Itunes business, Amazon are ready for this long term. So too their video movie business which competes with Netflix. Ebooks are now a multi-billion business and this is the company that's driving it.

I'm a fan of Amazon.

What they're doing with Kindle, is actually bringing a low-cost Ipad to market. The core functionality might be book reading, but video and social and email and everything will be there soon. Own the device, you own the content.

As regular readers (well okay, the 2 regular readers) of this blog will know, I'm a voracious reader but I switched early to Kindle with some reluctance. However, I have never looked back and nor has anyone I met who made the change.

Fantastic innovation - which as we know, like Apple, is the key to success.
Fantastic Amazon.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

A WTF Moment. Blackberry 10 launches and appoints a new Global Creative Director. Alicia Keys. Yep, the very same.

Research-in-Motion, the Canadian Company that owns 'Blackberry', are in another 'make or break' launch today of the Blackberry 10.

It's a company that doesn't stay out of the news and were sharply criticised earlier in the year for this very launch being post the Christmas sales time. In other words, they were missing the boat of high phone sales.

The CEO is Thorsten Heins, who bears the brunt of most of the PR having taken over under a promise of total revitalisation which just hasn't happened. Yet. Probably because he has the personality of a chair.

So big drum roll for the big launch today.

And then lo and behold, they actually trump their own phone publicity by announcing a new Global Creative Director for the company - Alicia Keys. Yep, the same Alicia Keys. You know, "Fallin'" ("in and out, of love, with you").

Now you're wondering (I can sense it) what exactly would Alicia Keys know about phones? We all are really - but the reason is clear, she says, because "I've always wanted to work with a technology company". Oh, oookkkkaaaaayyyy, I get it now.

Previously she was quoted as saying she was an "Iphone junkie" though? But she tweeted to clear that up by saying she was delighted to be with Blackberry now ("we're dating" she said, on the launch video above). 

She'll be doing the national anthem at The Superbowl on Sunday, presumably with her Blackberry. By the way, Blackberry have bought the 1st Superbowl Ad up this weekend. I'm going to hazard a guess's Alicia Keys singing about The Blackberry 10. Betcha.

But all the PR is about her and not The Blackberry 10 as a consequence of this move. 

The good old Washington Post reported that a possible PR alternative was to change the company name instead to 'Research in stagnation' and wonder, like me, what the hell is a 'Global Creative Director' anyway? 

And suggested that they had thought Blackberry was moving away from the keyboard? Those kind of comments.

Techcrunch did a whole piece about what she was wearing and a "What the?" byline saying "What Alicia Keys? The singer Alicia Keys?" incredulity. One Techcrunch commentator wondered if he was reading the satirical, The Onion!

Celebrity endorsement does make sense for sure. However, doing it at a launch of the new phone is, well, PR suicide. It's the celebs who get the mention not the phone.

I don't know anymore. I must just be getting too old for this game and not down with the kids anymore. I mean I'd never have thought of appointing Alicia Keys as the Global Creative Director of a phone. Not in a million years.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Top 10 Superbowl Ads of all time based on Social Media views.

The Superbowl Ad Title hots up. Here's the previous winners and I can't agree always....Apple Mac's Ridley Scott '1984' launch commercial comes in at 10. Should be at 1.

And the most watched ever is one I just don't get...

But whilst you're here, have a look at today's next blog and see a preview of the Mercedes 2013 commercial. Stunning.

Mercedes Superbowl Ad Preview. Rolling Stones? Wow!

Did you ever see anything like this for a Superbowl commercial?
The Stones 'Sympathy for the Devil' what did that cost?
And model Kate Upton, Usher, William Dafoe?

Things are hotting up for the Superbowl best Ad title on Sunday.

Superbowl Sunday. 36% of TV viewers will have a second screen open. 52% will follow the game on Social Media. 3.7 million for 30 seconds of airtime. And a lot of chicken wings.

This weekend is 'Superbowl Sunday', (49ers V Ravens) the final of the NFL and traditionally, the most expensive airtime in the world. 3.7 million usd for 30 seconds in fact.

What's interesting too, is that the Coaches on both teams are brothers. So it's Brother Versus Brother and Dad will therefore win whatever happens.

It was a commercial in the Superbowl that launched the Mac in 1984.

However, interesting research today by 'Century 21', an advertiser in The Superbowl, which showed that 88% of viewers will watch it from home (as distinct from the Bar or elsewhere). The main reason is being able to replay - a key issue in American Football more than any other game.

The other main reason is that 72% also liked the idea of having access to food and drink easily.

However, yet again we're seeing 36% saying they'll have a 'second screen' open during the game. Presumably to follow the Social Media patter or indeed, to watch it more closely. 52% are going to follow the game on Social Media.

Second screen viewing is now a part of TV consumption from a mountain of research and notably during Ad breaks as viewers turn to watch their laptops/tablets. Critical for advertising that's so expensive if viewers turn to the laptop during the break.

And the sophistication now of Social Media means there's plenty of distractions to entice them away. CBS is the main broadcaster and already, spots are fully sold and Social Media is getting the spillover.

Bud, Audi, Chrysler, Coke, Doritos, Century 21, Go Daddy, Kia, Hyundai, Ford, Mercedes, M&M's, Oreo, Samsung, Pepsi, Blackberry, Taco Bell, Tide, Toyota, VW, Disney and others are all lined up as advertisers in the broadcast.

And each one has it linked through a huge effort on Social Media - notably Audi and Bud. It's real integration of the media.

On Facebook, Twitter, Google+, analysis shows that 49er fans are more likely to share and be active than Baltimore Raven fans based on season games. 

One wonders if they'll ever be watched on traditional TV in the future and not directly online as internet ready TV's get into the mass market next year. Then you'll need just the one screen.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Steve Jobs gets mixed reviews in his new movie.

Well, I mean Ashton Kutcher (34) gets bad reviews because Steve Jobs is actually dead (something Apple analysts have a problem getting their head around).

The new move 'Jobs' launched Friday at The Sundance Film festival and will be in cinemas in April time. It's a biopic, starting at the start (ironically) in the 70's and goes up to the ipod launch in 2001. 

It's said to be not "always flattering" of Jobs but some say that's just Kutchers portrayal....meoww.

Seemingly it's just "passable entertainment" and few reviewers find it interesting - which surprises me because the story should be. Although, no matter what, we'll all probably go see. 

The UK Telegraph (a pretty good barometer I might add) says it's an "almighty mess".....Steve's co-founder 'Woz', is played as a clumsy, hairy geek which frankly, seems spot on? They're also pretty critical of Kutcher ("the poverty of his skills as a serious actor are on full display", "he clumsily signposts every emotion" and if that wasn't enough, "his diction is incoherent") so no Oscar there then.

But even if you're not right-wing, other papers have given it a thumbs down too including The San Fran Chronicle. The Montreal Gazette reports that Woz (Steve Wozinack) didn't like it either and in true fashion when asked did he like it, said simply 'No'. But they made a story out of it. 

He later sent out a Press Release which also simply said, "none of this shit happened". Good man Woz, he's lost none of it.

So it's not looking good. Pity.

One wonders if they will follow it up with the Apple story after Jobs and under the new influence of replacement MD, Tim Cook. A part 2, a sequel. 

But then I'm not sure I'd go to see a movie either called just...'Cook'.

It'll be out in April so we will go see then for ourselves. If you do, let me know, and I'll post your review.

Monday, 28 January 2013

There's 38 sugar cubes in a supersize Coke and so Coke are facing bans. So they do a TV Ad to respond. And it makes things worse. When Advertising backfires.

New York's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, promised last spring that he'd ban the sales of big, supersized sugary drinks (portion control), school bans on dispensers of them and possibly increase a sales tax on them. 

He had already completed the ban on smoking and this is his new challenge - obesity.

The average American drinks 45 Gallons of soft drinks a year.....sugary sodas are the single largest source of calories in the American diet. A regular Coke has the equivalent of 27 sugar cubes in it. And the supersize Big Gulp? 38 sugar cubes. 36% of Americans are obese and are estimated to cost 147 billion usd in medical care. 

So last year, New York started an advertising campaign aimed at anti-soft drinks in a campaign to tackle obesity and diabetes. In other words, they took on Coke, whom have been described as the "seller of liquid candy". Which they are and over which there should be no dispute.

The 75 Billion usd soft drink industry, fronted by Coke, has now launched its response and industry lobbyists have taken to court to block Bloomberg's plans on the ban as well as an Ad campaign of their own. And this response will in fact, do the industry more harm than good. 

Their is a growing backlash against the company by consumers and outrage fuelled by their very own TV Commercial. It's like tobacco companies whom when faced with an Ad ban, came out to explain that cigarettes were not linked to cancer - and produced medical quacks to prove it. Coke is doing the same thing and that is really annoying people. Coke are trying to pretend that they are actually, at the forefront of doing good work on obesity. Dear, oh dear.

Frankly, I am not surprised there's a backlash. Watch this next commercial and it's just shocking where Coke is sponsoring kids breakfast clubs. Shocking and disgraceful marketing and advertising. They are going to be the authors of their own bans and demise.

They're running a two minute Ad on national TV (top of this blog) and a 30 second approach. One commercial "coming together" shows the supposed initiatives Coke has taken to address the calorie/obesity problem. Another shows the ways you can burn off the calories - like "laughing out loud" is one, I kid you not.

Against a background of slim actors sipping Coke and healthy youngsters exercising, a voice over offers a simple explanation for the growing obesity crisis in the eyes of Coke - "If you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, then you'll gain weight" goes the Coke jingoism as a woman jogs through shot. 

Pathetic? unbelievably so and any attempt to try to position Coke as being in the vanguard of obesity is just ludicrous and won't work. Is the Ad Agency thinking at all? The idea that Coke is somehow involved in the fight against childhood diabetes, just is beyond belief, whilst at the same time, like McDonald's, uses appalling marketing tricks to target kids. Like sponsoring their breakfast clubs. Jesus. It's like tobacco companies saying that they are at the forefront of tackling cancer.

Of course, by doing all of this, it is growing its own criticism, drawing more people into the debate which weren't previously. The commercial angers people and clearly it has backfired. This commercial angered me and looking at the Breakfast Clubs and this commercial, it's about time Coke got a new marketing team or proposition. They're damaging their own brand.

As a Fellow of The Institute of Advertising, a Fellow of The Marketing Institute, a former board member of the European Ad Council (EAAA) and as a former 2 term Ad Institute President, I'd support a ban on Coke in schools, an Ad ban, a ban for larger drinks and an Advertising tax, simply because Coke are both contributing to obesity AND damaging advertising. 

When you produce advertising you have a responsibility, because it is so very powerful and with that responsibility, there are things you must not do - lines you do not cross. Coke, it seems to me, could care less. They'll do whatever it takes.

European action is already underway - France taxes these drinks, Denmark taxes saturated fats, Hungary taxes hamburgers and the UK is considering a "fat tax". 

Bloomberg says that more people are going to die from obesity than smoking and he's probably right. This is not a man to be diverted and he's prepared to take on this insidious industry, head-on. Good man. 

As for Coke? 
They're eating themselves through poor planning and crass advertising execution. 

Let them.